Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Successful Rosetta swing-by – next stop Earth

27.02.2007
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft successfully completed a swing-by of Mars in the early hours of Sunday morning (25th February 2007). Not only did this mark an important milestone on the spacecraft’s 7.1 billion km journey to comet Churyumov Gerasimenko but it provided a unique opportunity to gather further scientific data and images from the Red Planet.

The critical gravity assist manoeuvre around Mars has helped Rosetta change direction – putting it on the correct track towards Earth its next destination planet whose gravitational energy Rosetta will exploit in November this year to gain acceleration and continue on its ten-year journey to the comet which it will reach in 2014.

At 2.57 GMT mission controllers at ESOC, ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Germany confirmed that Rosetta had successfully completed the swing-by manoeuvre. At its closest approach (around 2.15 GMT) Rosetta passed the surface of Mars at a distance of 250 km (155 miles) travelling at a mere 10.1 km/second relative to the centre of the planet.

During the swing by there was a 25 minute period when Rosetta passed into the shadow of Mars denying the probe the ability to generate power using its solar arrays. At this time the spacecraft was put into “eclipse mode” with no science operations taking place on the orbiter instruments.

However, during the lead up to the closest approach and after the eclipse period the flyby presented scientists with a golden opportunity to calibrate the payload with instruments on other orbiting spacecraft such as Mars Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Prior to the orbiter’s instruments being switched off the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) captured some detailed images showing the atmospheric features of Mars, including cloud systems above the North polar cap.

Professor Keith Mason, CEO from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), said, “Rosetta has provided some amazing images of Mars from a completely different perspective. Data gathered during the swing-by will complement that collected by other current missions enabling us to build up a comprehensive picture of the make up of Mars.”

UK scientists from 10 institutions are involved in the instruments on both the Rosetta orbiter and lander. Chris Carr leads the Imperial College London team that operates the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) instruments, “Our instruments operated near continuously both sides of the flyby – allowing simultaneous measurements with its identical twin instrument on Mars Express. With Rosetta and Mars Express together, we hope to understand more about the vast and complex plasma environment around the red planet.”

Dr Andrew Coates from UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory is a co-investigator on instruments on both Rosetta and Mars Express. He comments, “It's great to see that this important milestone in this marathon mission has gone so well - and we will learn more about Mars on the way. Now, Rosetta can continue its long journey via 2 Earth flybys and passing 2 asteroids, en route to becoming the first ever mission to orbit and land on a comet. A triumph for the ESA and international teams involved.”

Professor Ian Wright from the Open University is Principal Investigator for Ptolemy, a miniaturised mass spectrometer on the lander – whose instruments were able to operate during the whole period of the close approach. He said, “This is the first time that the Philae lander has operated autonomously, completely relying on the power of its batteries. It is reassuring to know that so many miles away from home all instruments operated as is planned. This was a great rehearsal for 2014 and touch down on the comet when Philae will conduct its scientific measurements independent from the Rosetta orbiter.”

The camera onboard the lander (CIVA) provided a stunning image showing sections of the spacecraft and one of its solar arrays with Mars in the background. The ROMAP instrument was also switched on to collect data about the magnetic environment of Mars.

Chris Lee from SciSys UK Limited, who are responsible for the implementation of the Rosetta Mission Control System, monitored events from mission control in Germany. He comments, “The most critical time from our point of view came a few days before the actual manoeuvre when the on-board timeline was loaded with commands to execute the necessary actions for the swing-by. All went to plan and for the flyby itself it was a case of sitting back and letting Newton take over.”

EADS Astrium in the UK was responsible for the design, development and supply of the spacecraft platform including the structure and mechanical, thermal, propulsion, power and RF communications equipment. Rod Emery head of Astrium’s Rosetta team said: “Rosetta was a key major project and its success heralded a growth in scientific and Earth observation activities including prime management of Aeolus and Lisa Pathfinder and major roles in Gaia and Swarm. Rosetta is an extremely challenging mission and Astrium’s ex Rosetta team are tracking its success with great pride.”

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta/index.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>