ESA PR 15-2004. Today the Rosetta Science Working Team has made the final selection of the asteroids that Rosetta will observe at close quarters during its journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Steins and Lutetia lie in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Rosetta passes two asteroids on its ten year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Credits: ESA/AOES Medialab
Rosettas scientific goals always included the possibility of studying one or more asteroids from close range. However, only after Rosettas launch and its insertion into interplanetary orbit could the ESA mission managers assess how much fuel was actually available for fly-bys. Information from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Germany enabled Rosettas Science Working Team to select a pair of asteroids of high scientific interest, well within the fuel budget.
The selection of these two excellent targets was made possible by the high accuracy with which the Ariane 5 delivered the spacecraft into its orbit. This of course leaves sufficient fuel for the core part of the mission, orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for 17 months when Rosetta reaches its target in 2014.
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