Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UK scientists set to glimpse Rosetta as it swings by Earth

04.03.2005


One year into its twelve year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission will make a “close” flyby of Earth on Friday 4th March. UK scientists involved in the mission are hoping for a glimpse of the spacecraft which should be visible in the UK with the use of a telescope.



Whilst it has been visible to large amateur telescopes since 26th February, the best opportunity to view the spacecraft in Europe will be on Friday 4th March when it makes its closest approach to Earth. At a distance of 1900 km or 1,180 miles (the equivalent of a journey between Edinburgh and Rome) even the 32 metre solar panels on Rosetta are expected to be visible!

After sunset the spacecraft will appear to travel south east to south west, moving from the constellation Sextans towards the setting Sun, crossing the complete sky. As it heads west it will move faster and disappear below the horizon around 22.00 GMT. From Europe it will only reach a magnitude of +8 or +9 on the brightness scale used by astronomers. This is dimmer than a typical faint star and whilst not readily apparent to the eye will be able to be viewed and photographed (weather permitting) by a decent amateur telescope with digital imaging equipment. See notes to editors for details about ESA’s “Rosetta Up Close” photographic competition.


UK scientists, who are involved in 7 of the instruments/experiments on the orbiter and 4 on the lander, are eagerly awaiting a brief look at the spacecraft as it swings by. Professor Ian Wright from the Open University is Principal Investigator for the Ptolemy instrument on the Philae lander. He will be looking out for Rosetta from his back garden near Olney in Buckinghamshire.

“It’s amazing to think that on Friday night this spacecraft, which left Earth a year ago on a truly epic voyage, will be just a few thousand miles above our heads. Not only that, with luck (i.e. no clouds!), it should be visible in the night sky - I will be outside, around 10 pm, trying to observe it with my telescope and binoculars.”

Dan Andrews, a Phd student from the Open University, who works on Ptolemy adds, “This is just the second step on Rosetta’s journey, after Friday we will be heading towards a Mars flyby (26th February 2007), having robbed energy from the Earth as we slingshot towards our target comet.”

This is the first of four planet swing-bys (three with Earth and one with Mars) which Rosetta will make before reaching Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. Swing-bys are necessary to accelerate the spacecraft using the planet’s gravity, enabling it to reach the correct orbit once near the comet.

During the swing-by a number of activities are planned including a tracking test in preparation for the spacecraft’s flyby of two asteroids later in its journey (Steins in September 2008 and Lutetia in July 2010). This test of the asteroid tracking mode, will be carried out using the Moon, rather than an asteroid, as a target.

The Rosetta Plasma Consortium instruments, which UK scientists contributed to, are being switched on during the flyby. RPC team member Chris Carr from Imperial College explains more, “The Earth flyby gives us an excellent opportunity to calibrate the sensors, for example, the magnetometer can be checked against the very precisely known Earth-field at the low altitude closest approach point. In addition, Rosetta’s approach to Earth gives us a unique opportunity to do global magnetosphere studies with other operating missions such as Cluster and Double Star.”

As the oldest and most primitive bodies in the solar system comets provide the key to unlocking the secrets of the Universe. Comets have remained unchanged in comparison with other bodies within our solar system and provide the earliest record of materials in a pristine form.

On arrival at the comet, in around May 2014, the spacecraft will edge closer to the nucleus before deploying the Philae lander in November 2014. Once on the surface of the comet a whole range of scientific studies will be conducted in situ with the 10 instruments on board.

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/SPECIALS/Rosetta/SEMMTBYEM4E_0.html
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/earth_flyby.asp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hubble captures massive dead disk galaxy that challenges theories of galaxy evolution
22.06.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht New femto-camera with quadrillion fractions of a second resolution
22.06.2017 | ITMO University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Hubble captures massive dead disk galaxy that challenges theories of galaxy evolution

22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New femto-camera with quadrillion fractions of a second resolution

22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Rice U. chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>