On 10 July, the European Space Agency will webstream Rosetta's fly-by of Asteroid Lutetia in a two-part programme live from ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
ESA's comet-chaser Rosetta is heading for a blind date with asteroid Lutetia: Rosetta does not yet know what Lutetia looks like up-close but, beautiful or otherwise, the two will meet on 10 July. Like many first dates, Rosetta will meet Lutetia on a Saturday night, flying to within 3200 km of the space rock. Rosetta started taking navigational sightings of Lutetia at the end of May so that ground controllers can determine any course corrections required to achieve their intended flyby distance.
The close pass will allow around 2 hours of good imaging. The spacecraft will instantly radio the data back to Earth and the first pictures will be released later that evening. The webstream is available for embed/re-casting via our channel in Livestream.com:: http://www.livestream.com/eurospaceagency
Click on 'Full story' for details on how you can embed-re-cast the webstream in your website, personal home page, blog or other channel. -- Daniel
As a reader commented, the images clearly show Earth smiling back at Rosetta!
The OSIRIS team has composed this animation from a sequence of images taken once every 24 hours, beginning when Rosetta was at a distance of 50 000 km at 22:28 UTC last night. The resolution is 6.5 km/pixel. Access the animation in the main ESA web site. -- Amruta
Cool animation showing today's swingby as seen from Rosetta. The second half of the animation shows what you see if you were sitting on board Rosetta and watching Earth approach and then recede. -- Daniel
On its ten-year journey to rendezvous with a comet, ESAs Rosetta probe is visiting home for the third and last time on 13 November. It will be the last of its four planetary gravity assists - in 2007 Rosetta also had a swingby at Mars - each time picking up energy to reach its final target in 2014. Although a delicate moment for spacecraft controllers, the Earth swingby will be used to test all the science instruments and to make an innovative contribution to the search for water on the Moon.
This A & B-Roll from ESA TV was released last week and describes the Earth swingby, the science observations and the next key moment of the mission including interviews with Rosettas ESA Project Scientist, its principal investigators and the spacecraft controllers (note: this is a low-res preview).
The mission was launched in 2004, and will reach comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
Animation showing Rosetta's journey from launch until it reaches its final destination, including all major milestones along the way. Move cursor over the buttons on top to play, stop or zoom in. Click on 'select events' to select the event at which you want to see Rosetta's journey begin.
Launch: 2 March 2004
First Earth swingby: 4 March 2005
Mars swingby: 25 February 2007
Second Earth swingby: 13 November 2007
Steins flyby: 5 September 2008
Third Earth swingby: 13 November 2009
Lutetia flyby: 10 July 2010
Comet rendezvous manoeuvres: 22 May 2014
Lander delivery: 10 November 2014
Escorting the comet around the Sun: November 2014 - December 2015
End of mission: December 2015
arrival, Rosetta will continue to orbit the comet, observing what
happens as the icy nucleus approaches the Sun and then will travel away
from it. The mission is expected to end in December 2015. Subsequently,
Rosetta will again pass close to Earth’s orbit, more than 4000 days
after its adventure began. -- Amruta
The ESA Flight Dynamics team at ESOC spent yesterday analysing the most recent orbit data on Rosetta and have finalised the estimates for tomorrow's trajectory correction manoeuvre. The TCM will involve switching Rosetta's four in-line (or axial) thrusters on for a pre-set length of time to kick her onto the desired approach trajectory for the Earth swingby on 13 November.
The team have estimated the necessary 'delta-v' (desired change in velocity) at 8.789 cm/seconds, with the thruster burn starting at 15:26:11 UTC (17:26:11 CEST).
Click on 'Full story' for more details (below), and/or watch an old - but still very good - NASA video on orbital mechanics from YouTube. -- Daniel
Just got a note from Flight Dynamics - the number crunching experts here at ESOC - on their calculations for Thursday's trajectory correction manoeuvre (TCM).
They’ve started their calculations for the manoeuvre design. They’re now waiting to receive the latest DSN tracking data from NASA. Next step: they’ll spend time today to optimise and finalise the manoeuvre calculations.
After that, the team will begin generation of the commands that need to be uploaded to Rosetta for the TCM. Once the commands are in, we will be able to tell you the precise start and end times of Thursday's TCM burn.
As of now, the preliminary estimate (change possible) is a thruster burn of 6 secs.
Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) Andrea Accomazzo confirms that the manoeuvre will make use of the 4 axial thrusters located at each corner of the Rosetta main body. These point directly along the central axis of the spacecraft.
Each of Rosetta's 24 thrusters can generate a force of 10 Newtons, about the same as you would experience if you were holding a large bag of apples on Earth. At launch in 2004, over half the spacecraft's mass comprised propellant (approx. 1670 kg)!
Click on 'Full story' to view a short YouTube clip on Rosetta ESB3. -- Daniel
Kielbassa, Rosetta Flight Dynamics specialist sent this in earlier. She and her
colleague, Michael Flegel, put together this animation for us last night (click on image at left for full animated GIF).
animation is composed of images taken once a day by NAVcam A between 25 August
and 3 September. These images were used for the optical navigation campaign, as
Rosetta followed Steins, refining its trajectory to close in on the asteroid.
images have been adjusted so that the stars are of roughly the same brightness from
day to day, although the exposure times decrease, and Steins becomes
brighter as Rosetta appoaches.
After the fly-by which is scheduled for 20:58 CEST ground time today, data will be downloaded through the night. Beginning at 12:00 CEST, there is a press conference here at the European Space Operations Centre. Access live streaming of the press conference on this page.
The stream begins at 11:55 CEST and ends at 13:20 CEST. There is an interesting line-up of talks by some of ESA's top scientists and engineers, who will convey their first impressions of the fly-by, sharing pictures and information transmitted back to Earth the night before. The agenda is available here.
Click on the link below for a very nice visualisation of the Steins flyby.
This comes to us courtesy of our colleagues at DLR (the German Aerospace Center) and Vega; it was created using a simulation tool developed by Vega for DLR, who is responsible for operating Rosetta's Philae lander. It provides a very good (and accurate) visualisation of what you'd see if you were riding on Rosetta tomorrow as she passed Steins - note the size of the asteroid is exaggerated (thanks, Zeina!).-- Daniel