Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rosetta closes in on Earth – a second time

09.11.2007
ESA’s comet chaser, Rosetta, is on its way to its second close encounter with Earth on 13 November. The spacecraft’s operators are leaving no stones unturned to make sure Earth’s gravity gives it the exact boost it needs en route to its destination.

This month’s Earth swing-by is Rosetta’s third major step on its 10-year journey to 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The trajectory correction manoeuvre successfully performed last month prepared ESA’s Comet Chaser for the upcoming encounter. The spacecraft is now right on track to gain the right amount of energy from Earth’s gravity and save fuel later on.

Closest approach will take place on 13 November 2007 at 21:57 CET, at which time Rosetta will speed past at 45 000 km/h (about 12.5 km/s) relative to Earth. At this time, Rosetta will be 5301km above the Pacific Ocean, south-west of Chile, at 63° 46’ South and 74° 35’ West.

Why swing by Earth?

Swing-bys make use of the gravitational attraction of planets to modify a spacecraft’s trajectory and to gain the orbital energy needed to reach the final target.

The first Earth swing-by took place on 4 March 2005. On 25 February 2007 Rosetta made its closest approach to Mars, to use its gravity. The swing-by this month will be followed by the third and last swing-by, using Earth’s gravity, on 13 November 2009.

While the gravity-assist manoeuvre at Mars was needed to slow the spacecraft down and head back towards the inner solar system, the second Earth swing by will help Rosetta gain enough energy to reach the outer Solar System through the asteroid belt and observe asteroid Steins, one of its scientific targets. Rosetta will then head back to Earth for the last planned swing-by in November 2009.

The increased energy from this Earth swing-by will help Rosetta cross the asteroid belt for a second time, observe Lutetia (its second target asteroid) and finally rendezvous with comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The rendezvous will take place about 4 astronomical units or 600 million km from the Sun, in 2014.

Intense activity coming up...

During this Earth swing-by, the highest priority will be given to spacecraft operations, as the manoeuvre is critical for the success of the overall mission. In addition, during the incoming and outgoing tracks of the swing-by, Rosetta will be under unfavourable solar illumination and thus temperature conditions. This is why only very limited slots will be available for the instruments to be used safely.

Despite this, a few experiments both on the orbiter and the Philae lander will be activated for calibration, scientific measurements and imaging. The observations are scheduled during and around the time of closest approach, from 7 Nov, 01:00 CET, to 20 Nov, 15:00 CET.

Rosetta will first point to Earth to make observations of the atmosphere and the magnetosphere, including a search for shooting stars from space. It will image urban regions in Asia, Africa and Europe and then point to the Moon and obtain spectra of the illuminated Moon. Flying away after closest approach, Rosetta will image the Earth-Moon system from a distance.

Rosetta will be controlled from ESA’s Spacecraft Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

For the swing-by, the ESA Web portal is hosting a Rosetta swing-by blog providing frequent updates, news and information direct from the Rosetta Dedicated Control Room at ESOC.

Rosetta swing-by blog is available at:
http://www.esa.int/blog

Gerhard Schwehm | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/blog
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta/SEMC20VOM8F_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers
24.01.2017 | Institut national de la recherche scientifique - INRS

nachricht European XFEL prepares for user operation: Researchers can hand in first proposals for experiments
24.01.2017 | European XFEL GmbH

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: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>