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ROSETTA Satellite
KEY EVENTS
March 1996: Payload preselection & instruments A phase beginning
March 1997: Payload confirmation & Orbiter B phase beginning
1999: Structural and thermal models delivery
2000: Qualification models delivery
2001: Flight models delivery
2002: Final system tests
Beginning 2003: decision to delay the launch
Spring 2003: new mission definition
March 2004, 2nd: launch

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ROSETTA LANDER EVENTS

15/09/2014

Philae landing site selected

Some 70 scientists from all over Europe and the United States are poring over documents detailing the five potential landing sites downselected for Philae.

Meeting of the scientists at Toulouse Space Center during the final choice of Rosetta/Philae landing sites - © CNES/MALIGNE Frédéric, 2014
Meeting of the scientists at Toulouse Space Center during
the final choice of Rosetta/Philae landing sites.
© CNES/MALIGNE Frédéric, 2014

Site J was the best trade-off between all of the scientific and technological criteria, even though it was not the best for each individual criterion. The comet is a beautiful but dramatic world-it is scientifically exciting, but its shape makes it operationally challenging. None of the candidate landing sites met all of the operational criteria at the 100% level, but Site J is clearly the best solution.

Navigation calculations also show that Philae's descent should last approximately 7 hours. This means the lander will not use up too much of its primary battery during descent, so all of the instruments will be able to function at least once on the surface.

The scientists gathered this weekend in Toulouse also had to choose a back-up landing site for Philae should a hereto unforeseen obstacle arise. While choosing J as the primary site was easy, finding a back-up site proved a lot trickier. Philae mission managers went for Site C, as it offers a better illumination profile and seems to have fewer potentially dangerous boulders. A more unfortunate point raised by the scientists concerning Site C is the fact that radar sounding of the nucleus by the CONSERT instrument would be greatly compromised.

Francis Rocard, in charge of the Rosetta programme at CNES, summed up the general feeling at the end of the meeting that "the choice of this site is the result of a complex process involving more than 100 people that took only a few weeks. Despite the tough challenge of finding an ideal site to meet all of our criteria on this comet with its particularly rough terrain, it is remarkable that we have achieved such a good consensus."

Read the complete news on the CNES website.
Also read the article on the ESA website.

25/08/2014

Rosetta's landing site search narrows

Using detailed information collected by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft during its first two weeks at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, five locations have been identified as candidate sites to set down the Philae lander in November - the first time a landing on a comet has ever been attempted.

Choosing the right landing site is a complex process. That site must balance the technical needs of the orbiter and lander during all phases of the separation, descent, and landing, and during operations on the surface with the scientific requirements of the 10 instruments on board Philae.

A key issue is that uncertainties in the navigation of the orbiter close to the comet mean that it is only possible to specify any given landing zone in terms of an ellipse - covering up to one square kilometre - within which Philae might land.

For each possible zone, important questions must be asked: Will the lander be able to maintain regular communications with Rosetta? How common are surface hazards such as large boulders, deep crevasses or steep slopes? Is there sufficient illumination for scientific operations and enough sunlight to recharge the lander's batteries beyond its initial 64-hour lifetime, while not so much as to cause overheating?

This weekend, the Landing Site Selection Group (comprising engineers and scientists from Philae's Science, Operations and Navigation Centre at CNES, the Lander Control Centre at DLR, scientists representing the Philae Lander instruments and ESA's Rosetta team) met at CNES, Toulouse, to consider the available data and determine a shortlist of five candidate sites.

Les 5 sites sélectionnés pour l'atterrissage de Philae sur la comète 67P/G-C
Les 5 sites sélectionnés pour l'atterrissage de Philae sur la comète 67P/G-C
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/

The sites were assigned a letter from an original pre-selection of 10 possible sites, which does not signify any ranking. Three sites (B, I and J) are located on the smaller of the two lobes of the comet and two sites (A and C) are located on the larger lobe.

The next step is a comprehensive analysis of each of the candidate sites, to determine possible orbital and operational strategies that could be used for Rosetta to deliver the lander to any of them. At the same time, Rosetta will move to within 50 km of the comet, allowing a more detailed study of the proposed landing sites.

Read the complete article on ESA's website

24/07/2014

Hints of features of comet P67/C-G

In this week's images, taken on 20 July from a distance of 5500 km, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's largest features are beginning to stand out in the OSIRIS narrow angle camera view.

Each image in this sequence is separated by two hours, and the comet rotates with a period of approximately 12.4 hours. The binary nature of the comet can now be seen even images that haven't been interpolated to smooth out the pixels, which overall has been likened to a duck in shape. The change in position of the dark strip across the 'neck' of the comet in the second and third images is a result of the change in illumination and the resulting shadows cast on the surface as the comet rotates.

One area of the neck seems significantly brighter than surrounding regions. This bright region, seen most clearly in the first image, may result from differences in surface composition or grain size. For example, could it be a region of freshly exposed ice or the product of resurfacing.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko imaged on 20 July 2014 by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow angle camera from a distance of about 5500 km. The three images were taken two hours apart and have a resolution of about 100 m per pixel. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko imaged on 20 July 2014 by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow angle camera from a distance of about 5500 km. The three images were taken two hours apart and have a resolution of about 100 m per pixel.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Read the complete article on ESA's website

17/07/2014

The dual personality of comet P67/C-G

This week's images of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reveal an extraordinarily irregular shape. We had hints of that in last week's images and in that short time it has become clear that this is no ordinary comet. Like its name, it seems that comet 67P/C-G is in two parts. Some people have already likened the shape to a duck, with a distinct body and head.

What the spacecraft is actually seeing is the pixelated image shown on the right, which was taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow angle camera on 14 July from a distance of 12 000 km. The image on the left shows the comet after the image has been processed. The technique used, called "sub-sampling by interpolation", only acts to remove the pixelisation and make a smoother image.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, imaged on 14 July 2014 by OSIRIS from a distance of approximately 12 000 km. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA The same image after being processed using 'sub-sampling by interpolation'. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
On the right: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, imaged on 14 July 2014 by OSIRIS from a distance of approximately 12 000 km. On the Left: The same image after being processed using 'sub-sampling by interpolation'. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta Mission Manager Fred Jansen comments: "We currently see images that suggest a rather complex cometary shape, but there is still a lot that we need to learn before jumping to conclusions. Not only in terms of what this means for comet science in general, but also regarding our planning for science observations, and the operational aspects of the mission such as orbiting and landing."

"We will need to perform detailed analyses and modeling of the shape of the comet to determine how best we can fly around such a uniquely shaped body, taking into account flight control and astrodynamics, the science requirements of the mission, and the landing-related elements like landing site analysis and lander-to-orbiter visibility. But, with fewer than 10 000 km to go before the 6 August rendez-vous, our open questions will soon be answered."

Rotating view of comet on 14 July 2014. This movie uses a sequence of 36 interpolated images each separated by 20 minutes, certainly provides a truly stunning 360-degree preview of the overall complex shape of the comet. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Rotating view of comet on 14 July 2014. This movie uses a sequence of 36 interpolated images each separated by 20 minutes, certainly provides a truly stunning 360-degree preview of the overall complex shape of the comet. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Source: ESA's website

04/07/2014

Rosetta get closer to P67/C-G comet

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken by the narrow angle camera of Rosetta's scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, on 4 July 2014, at a distance of 37 000 km. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, taken by the narrow angle camera of Rosetta's scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, on 4 July 2014, at a distance of 37 000 km. The three images are separated by 4 hours, and are shown in order from left to right. The comet has a rotation period of about 12.4 hours. It covers an area of about 30 pixels, and although individual features are not yet resolved, the image is beginning to reveal the comet's irregular shape. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Source: ESA's website

15/05/2014

New images of P67/C-G comet taken by OSIRIS camera

The scientific imaging system OSIRIS on board ESA's Rosetta spacecraft witnesses the awakening of the mission's target comet.

The comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, target of ESA's Rosetta mission, has begun to develop a dust coma. This can be seen in a series of images taken by OSIRIS, the spacecraft's scientific imaging system, between March 27th and May 4th. In the images from the end of April, the dust that the comet is already emitting is clearly visible as an evolving coma and reaches approximately 1300 kilometers into space. Scientists from the OSIRIS team presented these new findings in a meeting at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS).

This sequence of images shows the comet moving against the background star field as Rosetta approached from around 5 million to 2 million km distance, between March 27th and May 4th, 2014. During this time, Rosetta (and the comet) are between 640 and 610 million km from the Sun. The comet is seen to develop a dust coma as the sequence progresses, with clear activity already visible in late-April. Exposure times are 720s for each image, taken with the OSIRIS/NAC through the Orange filter. © ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
This sequence of images shows the comet moving against the background star field as Rosetta approached from around 5 million to 2 million km distance, between March 27th and May 4th, 2014. During this time, Rosetta (and the comet) are between 640 and 610 million km from the Sun. The comet is seen to develop a dust coma as the sequence progresses, with clear activity already visible in late-April. Exposure times are 720s for each image, taken with the OSIRIS/NAC through the Orange filter. © ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

"67P is beginning to look like a real comet", comments Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the MPS. The images recorded in late-April from a distance of approximately 2 million kilometers show not only a bright nucleus, but also paler structures surrounding it. When comets approach the Sun, volatile gases evaporate from their surface carrying fountains of tiny dust particles with them. In part, these gases and dust remain bound to the nucleus by gravity thus constituting the comet's coma.

Still more than 600 million kilometers separate 67P from the Sun. This corresponds to more than four times the distance between Earth and Sun. This early onset of cometary activity offers scientists the opportunity to study dust production and structures within the coma at an early stage of the mission. "It's hard to believe that only a few months from now, Rosetta will dive deep into this cloud of dust and progress to the origin of the comet's activity", says Holger Sierks.

This image shows a zoom in on the comet taken on April 30th, when a long sequence of images (each with a 10 minutes exposure) was taken and stacked to produce the close up view on the right hand side. In this image we can see that the coma extends over 1300 km from the nucleus. The left panel shows the comet against the star field, covering the same area as previous image. © ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
This image shows a zoom in on the comet taken on April 30th, when a long sequence of images (each with a 10 minutes exposure) was taken and stacked to produce the close up view on the right hand side. In this image we can see that the coma extends over 1300 km from the nucleus. The left panel shows the comet against the star field, covering the same area as previous image. © ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

From the changes in brightness that the comet displays periodically over the course of several hours, the OSIRIS team was now also able to determine its rotational period. With 12.4 hours the time for one full rotation is approximately 20 minutes shorter than previously thought.

Read the complete article on ESA's website

18/04/2014

Progress report for Blocks 1 and 2 operations of Philae Post Hibernation Commissioning phase

Block 1 concerned activities monitored by the LCC control center:

  • as for CNES, there were:
    • the depassivation of the Primary battery: the as for CNES, there were of the differents packs is correct and relatively homogeneous, in accordance with the expected values,
    • TxRx tests in different configurations (each of the 2 antennas can serve as Tx and Rx): the last one tested was the one causing problems of configuration management to the CDMS, which was the case in this instance too.
  • software of the instruments have been either changed, or simply refreshed. All ran nominally.

Block 2 was mainly constituted of instrument activities. All instruments were tested, the most significants were:

  • the panorama of the Çiva's 7 cameras: the images of cameras 1 and 5 see the orbiter solar panels
  • Çiva cameras 1 and 5 see the orbiter solar panels - copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/Civa
    copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/Civa

  • image taken by Rolis which shows a color composite of the orbiter's MLI (Multi Layer Insulation)
  • Color composite of the orbiter's MLI (Multi Layer Insultion) - copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/Rolis
    copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/Rolis

  • up and down movement of APXS detector (results to be confirmed)
  • several rotations of SD2 caroussel
  • a sniffing by Ptolemy of molecules outside Philae : it detected several ones, in particular the water line
  • Water line sniffed by Ptolemy - copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/Ptolemy
    copyright ESA/Rosetta/Philae/Ptolemy

  • a "ping-pong" by Consert (synchronization of Consert orbiter and lander modules) but all the other instruments took measurements that were nominal: Romap, Cosac, Mupus, Sesame

Moreover, the rechargeable secondary battery was tested: the state of charge is now of 33% after the 40 months of hibernation, to be compared with a higher expected value, that stays sufficient to wait for the complete charge in August.

28/03/2014

Rosetta's Philae lander reactivated
CNES invites you to attend first data downlink

The Rosetta mission's Philae lander, which will be dropped onto the nucleus of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, has been woken up from its deep-space 'hibernation'. CNES is ready to receive the first science data Philae sent back.

CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: "Rosetta is one of the most important space events of 2014. I'm delighted that the Philae lander has been successfully woken up, which is a source of great pride for everyone who has contributed to this remarkable project. Everything appears to be working perfectly on Rosetta, launched more than 10 years ago, which is a real technological achievement. CNES has been involved in this mission since the outset and will now be keeping a close eye on Philae from the Toulouse Space Centre and preparing for touchdown on the comet, later in the year".

CNES invites you to join us at the Science Operation and Navigation Centre (SONC), which will play a leading role in Philae's descent and landing on the comet in November. The press visit takes place on:

Tuesday 15 April - 10h45 a.m. to 12h45 p.m., at the Toulouse Space Center

At the event, Jean-Pierre Bibring and Hermann Böhnhardt, lead scientists for the Philae mission, will present the first data transmitted by the lander.

Pre-registration is necessary (places are limited) by email to Nathalie Journo by Thursday 10 April at the latest.

Read the complete Press Release.

27/03/2014

Rosetta sets sights on destination comet

ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet, 67P/Churuymov-Gerasimenko, since waking up from deep-space hibernation on 20 January.

These two 'first light' images were taken on 20 and 21 March by the OSIRIS wide-angle camera and narrow-angle camera, as part of six weeks of activities dedicated to preparing the spacecraft's science instruments for close-up study of the comet. OSIRIS has two cameras for imaging the comet, one covers a wide angle, while the narrow-angle camera covers a smaller field at higher resolution.

Read the complete article on ESA's website

The image on the left was taken with the OSIRIS Wide Angle Camera on 20 March. The white box indicates the position of the close-up taken with the Narrow Angle Camera, with the comet appearing towards the top of this box, close to the bright globular star cluster M107. The image was taken from a distance of about 5 million kilometres to the comet. The image on the right was taken on 21 March by the OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera. The comet is indicated by the small circle next to the bright globular star cluster M107.
These images were taken from a distance of about 5 million kilometres to the comet.
ESA © 2014 MPS for OSIRIS-Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
23/01/2014

First data from Philae after Rosetta wake-up

The first orbiter data packets related to the lander temperatures were received on the 21/01 after the wake up. They show temperatures 2 or 3° below the expected ones, but means the hibernation heaters have worked fine and deep space hibernation has been successful for Philae too.

The lander will stay in hibernation until the 28/03.

20/01/2014

Successful wake up of Rosetta after 31 months of hibernation

Rosetta probe wake up was successful and took place as scheduled on January 20,2014 at 10h00 Universal Time. La confirmation arrived at 19h18 in local time.

Signal sent by Rosetta after its wake up
Signal sent by Rosetta after its wake up © ESA

Read more about it on ESA's website.

20/01/2014

Wake up of Rosetta after 31 months of hibernation

Rosetta probe wake up from hibernating is scheduled for January 20th, 2014 at 10h00 Universal Time. The confirmation is expected between 18h00 and 19h00 in local time.

Read more about it on ESA's website.


Latest update 23/09/2014

 
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