||November 13 2009 10:23 AM
Rosetta bound for outer Solar System after final Earth swingby
13 November 2009This morning, mission controllers confirmed that ESA’s comet chaser Rosetta had swung by Earth at 8:45 CET as planned, skimming past our planet to pick up a gravitational boost for an epic journey to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
Rosetta passed over the ocean, just South of the Indonesian island of Java, at exactly 08:45:40 CET, at a speed of 13.34 km/s with respect to Earth an an altitude of 2481 km. The swingby was pre-planned and fully automated, and the spacecraft was in direct communication with Earth at the time, via the ESa New Norcia Station.
The successful swingby was confirmed at 09:05 CET when mission controllers re-established contact with Rosetta via ESA’s Maspalomas station in Spain. Although a detailed analyses is in progress, spacecraft operators have confirmed that the swingby provided a boost of 3.6 km/s.Europe’s comet chaser has now flown a little over 4500 million km of its 7100 million km journey to its destination comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This was Rosetta’s fourth planetary swingby and the third and final swingby of Earth
Rosetta was sucessfully launched on 2 March 2004 by an Ariane-5 G+ from Kourou, French Guiana. In order to gain enough orbital energy to reach its target four gravity assists are required: one by Mars and three by Earth. The long mission duration has required the introduction of extended hibernation periods.
Rosetta takes its name from the Rosetta Stone, an incomplete stela of black basalt incised with the same priestly decree in three scripts concerning Ptolemy V. Although three scripts are shown (Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Egyptian Demotic and Greek) just two languages are represented. The great significance of the Stone is that it provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The Rosetta design is based on a box-type central structure, 2.8 m x 2.1 m x 2.0 m, on which all subsystems and payload equipment are mounted. Two solar panels, with a combined area of 64 m2, stretch out to 14 m in length. The total span from tip to tip is 32 m. The Philae lander is attached to the spacecraft side opposite to the side that carries the 2.2m diameter steerable high-gain antenna.
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