During its long trek to final destination (comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko), Rosetta is planned to study two asteroids – 2867-Steins and 21-Lutetia, both lying in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids, as well as comets, carry important information about the origin of the Solar System – a better understanding of which is one of the primary goals of Rosetta.
The two asteroids will be visited at close range in September 2008 and July 2010, respectively, but the Rosetta scientists have already taken the opportunity to collect preliminary data about them. This opportunity will help scientists to better prepare for the broader observation campaigns of the two asteroids to come at later stage.
Steins was imaged by Rosetta on March 11, while Lutetia was first imaged by Rosetta during a 36-hour observation campaign on 2 and 3 January 2007, when the spacecraft was flying at about 245 million kilometres from the asteroid. OSIRIS, the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System mounted onboard the Rosetta orbiter, was switched on for this remote sensing observation.
Lutetia can be seen as the near-stationary spot visible at the centre of the animated sequence presented in this article. The scattered light spots seen in the movie are cosmic rays events, that is high-energy cosmic radiation hitting the detectors of the OSIRIS camera.
Little is known about Lutetia and Steins. Actually, very little is known about asteroids in general. Out of the many millions of asteroids that populate the Solar System, only a few have been observed so far from near-by.
According to what we know so far, Steins and Lutetia have rather different properties. Steins is relatively small, with a diameter of a few kilometres. Lutetia is a much bigger object, about 100 kilometres in diameter.
The Lutetia observation this month were aimed at pre-characterizing the rotation direction of the asteroid. This can be done by the study of the so-called 'light curve' of the asteroid – by analysing how the light emitted by the observed object changes intensity for the observer, one can deduce in what direction the object rotates. Scientists are now busy in analysing the OSIRIS data to build the light curve of Lutetia.
Having concluded the Lutetia observations, Rosetta is now getting ready for the next mission milestone: the swing-by of planet Mars. At the end of February, the gravitational energy of the Red Planet will be used by the spacecraft to get accelerated and then pushed, like a stone in a sling-shot, on a trajectory towards Earth for the following gravity assist manoeuvre in November 2007.
In the meantime Rosetta continues to provide new emotions as this incredible spacecraft, travelling through the Solar System as a cosmic 'billiard ball', collects data and images of the objects on its way.
Gerhard Schwehm | alfa
APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences