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Rosetta is the first mission to be sent to orbit and land on a comet.

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  • The challenging detection, by ESA's Rosetta mission, of several isotopes of the noble gas xenon at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has established the first quantitative link between comets and the atmosphere of Earth. The blend of xenon found at the comet closely resembles U-xenon, the primordial mixture that scientists believe was brought to Earth during the early stages of Solar System formation. These measurements suggest that comets contributed about one fifth the amount of xenon in Earth's ancient atmosphere.

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Timeline

March 2004:
Launch

April 2004:
Instrument Checkout & Comet LINEAR

March 2005:
Earth 1 Gravity Assist

July 2005:
Deep Impact Observation

Feb 2007:
Mars Gravity Assist

Nov 2007:
Earth 2 Gravity Assist

Sept 2008:
Asteroid Steins Flyby

Nov 2009:
Earth 3 Gravity Assist

July 2010:
Asteroid Lutetia Flyby

July 2011:
Aphelion/Enter Hibernation

Jan 2014:
Exit Hibernation

May 2014:
Rendezvous with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Aug 2014:
Start Global Mapping of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Nov 2014:
Philae Lands on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Aug 2015:
Rosetta & Comet Reach Perihelion (closest approach to Sun)

Dec 2015:
End of mission

About the Comet

Dimensions (Small Lobe) 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.0 km OSIRIS
Dimensions (Large Lobe) 4.1 x 3.2 x 1.3 km OSIRIS
Rotation 12.4043 hours OSIRIS
Spin Axis Right ascension: 69 degrees; Declination: 64 degrees OSIRIS
Mass 10^13 kg RSI
Volume 25 km^3 OSIRIS
Density 0.4 g/cm^3 RSI / OSIRIS
Water Vapour Production Rate 300 ml/sec (Jun 2014); 1–5 l/sec (Jul-Aug 2014) MIRO
Surface Temperature 205–230K (Jul-Aug 2014) VIRTIS
Subsurface Temperature 30–160K (Aug 2014) MIRO
Gases Detected Water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane, methanol ROSINA
Dust Grains A few tens of microns to a few hundreds of microns
COSIMA
(detections also by GIADA)

These values are preliminary and will be updated as more information becomes available. Credit: ESA -- Read More: http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2014/10/03/measuring-comet-67pc-g/

Fast Facts

  • Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to escort a comet
  • Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to land on a comet
  • First use of a microwave spectrometer and ultraviolet spectrometer on a comet
  • Rosetta gets its name from the famous Rosetta stone that led to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics almost 200 years ago.
  • Rosetta was the first spacecraft to fly close to Jupiter’s orbit using only solar cells as its main power source.
  • The Philae lander is named for the island in the river Nile on which an obelisk was found that had a bilingual inscription that enabled the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone to be deciphered.

Factsheets

What Will Rosetta Do?

  • Rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 deploy a lander and escort the comet as it orbits the Sun past the perihelion.
  • Investigate the structure of a quiet and dynamic nucleus
  • Test isotopic fractions to understand the origins of comets
  • Understand how all comet components: tails, coma and nucleus function together
  • Extend the newly acquired comet knowledge to the formation of the solar system and the origin of water on Earth

The Spacecraft

  • Launch vehicle: Ariane-5 G+
  • Launch mass: Orbiter: 2900 kg (including 1670 kg propellant and 165 kg science payload); Lander (Philae): 100 kg
  • Dimensions: Orbiter: 2.8 x 2.1 x 2.0 m with two 14 metre long solar panels
  • Instruments:
  • Orbiter (11 science instrument packages):
  • ALICE: Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer
  • CONSERT: Comet Nucleus Sounding
  • COSIMA: Cometary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser
  • GIADA: Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator
  • MIDAS: Micro-Imaging Analysis System
  • MIRO: Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter
  • OSIRIS: Rosetta Orbiter Imaging System
  • ROSINA: Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis
  • RPC: Rosetta Plasma Consortium
  • RSI: Radio Science Investigation
  • VIRTIS: Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer

The Lander: Philae (10 Science Instrument Packages):

  • APXS: Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer
  • ÇIVA / ROLIS: Rosetta Lander Imaging System
  • CONSERT: Comet Nucleus Sounding
  • COSAC: Cometary Sampling and Composition experiment
  • MODULUS PTOLEMY: Evolved Gas Analyser
  • MUPUS: Multi-Purpose Sensor for Surface and Subsurface Science
  • ROMAP: RoLand Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor
  • SD2: Sample and Distribution Device
  • SESAME: Surface Electrical Sounding and Acoustic Monitoring Experiment

Continued Rosetta Coverage:

About Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko:Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Rosetta Videos:

Interactives:

For Educators:

For Students:

Rosetta in Other Languages:

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