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:
Gerhard Schwehm | alfa
Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun
18.04.2019 | University of Warwick
In vivo super-resolution photoacoustic computed tomography by localization of single dyed droplets
18.04.2019 | Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna
A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences
18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences