March 12, 2015

Events Archive

2015 Events

03/11/2015: Rosetta ready for attempt to regain contact with Philae

Starting this Thursday 12 March, the Rosetta orbiter will try to regain contact with the Philae lander currently "asleep" on the surface of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. If the lander wakes up as hoped, teams at the mission's Science Operations and Navigation Centre (SONC) at CNES's Toulouse Space Centre ([no-lexicon]CST[/no-lexicon]) are all set to receive the results of its first health check and a press conference will be webcast live from the CST.
Read the complete Press Release from CNES.
Read also the interview of Philippe Gaudon, CNES (in French).


01/22/2015: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comete under Rosetta scrutiny

Nearly 6 months after Rosetta arrival near P67 comet nucleus, Science publishes, in its edition of January 23, 2015, a series of 7 articles which enable to make a first evaluation of the exploration of this small body in our Solar System.
Read the complete news on CNES website (in French).

Zoom of a part of the small lobe of 67P nucleus taken by OSIRIS-NAC camera on Rosetta, on October 14, 2014 at an altitude of 8 km ; resolution 15 cm/pixel. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.
Zoom of a part of the small lobe of 67P nucleus taken by OSIRIS-NAC camera on Rosetta, on October 14, 2014 at an altitude of 8 km ; resolution 15 cm/pixel. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

2014 Events

12/11/2014: The first results from ROSINA instrument

ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapour from its target comet to be significantly different to that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet's oceans. The measurements were made in the month following the spacecraft's arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 6 August. It is one of the most anticipated early results of the mission, because the origin of Earth's water is still an open question.
Read the complete news on ESA website.

The different values of the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H) in water observed in various bodies in the Solar System: planets and moons (blue), chondritic meteorites from the Asteroid Belt (grey), comets originating from the Oort cloud (purple) and Jupiter family comets (pink). Rosetta's Jupiter-family comet is highlighted in yellow. Credits: Marty/ESA
Deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in the Solar System. Credits: Marty/ESA


11/19/2014: Philae descent seen by OSIRIS

On November 12, 2014, OSIRIS-NAC camera on Rosetta monitored the descente and first rebound of Philae on the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet nucleus. It was then at a distance of nearly 15.5 km.

The descente and the 1st rebound of Philae on 67P. Images taken by the OSIRIS-NAC camera on board Rosetta at a distance of 15.5 km, on November 12, 2014 (resolution 28 cm/pixel). Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

This Mosaic regroup a series of images of Philae and the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet taken by the OSIRIS-NAC camera on Rosetta, camera developed by the LAM (Laboratoire d'astrophysique de Marseille) (CNRS/Aix-Marseille University), over a period bracketing by 30 min the time of the 1st contact of Philae with the ground. The hours indicated in the image are in GMT (Paris is at GMT+1h). A comparison of the landing site before and after the contact enable to see new details on the surface; 3 traces probably left by Philae's feet and a fourth still to be explained.
Read the complete news on the CNES website (in French).


11/12/2014: Follow Philae landing live

Live here the last moments of Philae landing until contact with the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet on November 12, 2014. Availaible for free sharing from 15h30 (Paris time, GMT+1), 4 simultaneous video fluxes :

  • One videotransmission from CNES, to see in live the most important moments of Philae landing with interventions of specialists in the differents sites involved in Europe.
  • One on-board camera at the heart of CNES operations center in Toulouse (SONC) in charge of all the navigation and coordination of Philae landing.
  • A live with the "Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie" in Paris with prestigious guests and special envoys.
  • Our films and documentaries on Rosetta mission Rosetta continuous.

Read the complete news on the CNES website (in French).


09/15/2014: 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.


08/25/2014: 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 week-end, 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.

The 5 sites selected for the landing of Philae on 67P/G-C comet
The 5 sites selected for the landing of Philae on 67P/G-C comet
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


07/24/2014: 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.
Read the complete article on ESA's website

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


07/17/2014: 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  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."
Source: ESA's website

 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


07/04/2014: Rosetta gets closer to P67 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


05/15/2014: New images of P67 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


04/18/2014: 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.


03/28/2014: 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 (in French).


03/25/2014: 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

01/23/2014: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.


01/20/2014: 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.
Read more about it on ESA's website.


Signal sent by Rosetta after its wake up © ESA

2012 Events

05/29/2012: Rosetta flyby uncovers the complex history of asteroid Lutetia

The images collected by Rosetta during the flyby have uncovered, for the first time, the wide variety of craters and other geological features that scar the surface of Lutetia. Scientists have explored this rich pool of data thoroughly, and will continue to investigate these unique and extraordinary data for years to come, in order to characterise many of Lutetia's properties, from its surface morphology and composition to its shape and internal structure, revealing its underlying geological history. The results of these studies are reported in a series of 21 papers published in a special issue of the journal Planetary and Space Science: Rosetta Fly-by at Asteroid (21) Lutetia. Special issue of Planetary and Space Science, Volume 66, Issue 1, Pages 1-212 (June 2012)
For more information about these results, see the ESA's website

 Image from Thomas et al., (adapted from Massironi et al., ) Planetary and Space Science, Vol.66, 2012
The different regions on Lutetia's surface - Copyright: Image from Thomas et al., (adapted from Massironi et al., ) Planetary and Space Science, Vol.66, 2012

2011 Events

10/28/2011: Scientific Results from Lutetia flyby

Asteroid 21 Lutetia was approached by the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft on 10 July 2010. During this flyby, spectacular images were taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS cameras revealing the richness of the geological processes of this asteroid as well as to determine its density, 3.4±0.3 g/cm³, one of the highest measured for an asteroid. These observations lead to believe that asteroid 21 Lutetia is probably a primeval planetesimal, relic form the initial Solar System, which didn't break since its formation about 4 billion years ago, contrarily to most of other asteroids (>95%). The LAM (Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille – CNRS/Université de Provence), as part of OSIRIS scientific team, was particularly involved in this exceptional result, published in "Science".
Other scientific results obtained from different instruments of Rosetta during the same flyby were published in other "Science" articles on October 28, 2011.


06/2011: Rosetta enters hibernation in deep space

After a series of maneuvers in January and February that placed Rosetta on the right trajectory to intercept the comet in 2014, today, 8 of June 2011, the link with the probe has been turned off for a hibernation period of more than 30 months: this morning at 07:30 UTC Rosetta was spun up to stabilise its attitude so that solar panels would face the Sun during its long visit of the Jupiter neighbourhood. Indeed if Rosetta will sleep it will keep on controlling power and temperature by its own.
Read more about it on ESA's website

2010 Events

12/2010: Latest News form Rosetta

The test just before hibernation was requested to prove the new version of the main CDMS flight software V8.14 is able to manage the complex activities of the Separation-Descent-Landing phase that will be run in 2014: a 30 minutes landing trajectory was chosen and simulated comprising 6 instruments working consecutively or in parallel. Moreover the last mode never tested yet of the Ptolemy instrument was performed as well as new interference tests between Sesame and Consert instruments. All these operations went flawlessly, all data were correctly stored in the different memories and downloaded to the Earth. Perturbations of Consert and Sesame on each other are confirmed and will prevent the 2 instruments to work simultaneously. In summary Philae is ready to take the 3 years sleep (full 2011 to 2013) of hibernation phase.
Ground means, LCC and SONC, behaved perfectly too. But they will not hibernate at all in the coming years. On the contrary the 2 centers will be refurbished to be able to run the very complicated ground and flight operations of the comet phase. Indeed we have to face a landing on a totally unknown body in a very far corner of the solar system.

 ESA/Philae/CIVA)
An example of the pictures taken at 3.7 AU (555 million of km) from the Sun by the CIVA instrument of Philae (copyright: ESA/Philae/CIVA). The first left and the last right show the 2 Rosetta dark orbiter solar panels.


07/12/2010: Lutetia fly-by, on saturday July 10th, was fully successful
The entry in "asteroid fly-by" mode, time of the asteroid closest approach, as well as the end of the period without data transmission run exactly as planned. The Osiris cameras, WAC (wide field) and NAC (high resolution) also, functioned perfectly. Which resulted in these magnificient images:

 ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS team MPS/UPD/LAM  ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS team MPS/UPD/LAM
Lutetia Asteroid - Credit: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS team MPS/UPD/LAM

The Osiris images enable to see a little more than 50 % of the asteroid surface. The visible side is 126 km long and 88 km wide. It is a very craterized asteroid, as many of them, but with some clean surfaces or with few craters, which indicates "young" surfaces (compared to the solar system, but none the less several millions of years old).
Another preliminary result, no magnetic field, seams to indicate that contrarily to what most of scientists thought, the asteroid is not metallic. But it remains to be confirmed.
A large number of other results can't be obtained in realtime. Several months, if not several years, will be necessary to study all the collected data.


07/12/2010: Rosetta evening at the Cité de l'Espace, in Toulouse

After the fly-by of asteroid Lutetia by Rosetta, results and comments about the Rosetta mission objectives with: Philippe Gaudon, CNES project manager for the French contributions to Rosetta; Laurent Jorda, Astronomer at Marseille Provence Astronomy Observatory, French scientist specialist of Osiris Camera that will image Lutetia; Sylvestre Maurice, Astrophysicist at CESR; Lionel D'Uston, CNRS reseach Director.
In partnership with the CESR, Marseille Astronomy Observatory and EADS Astrium.
Free exhibition, registry advised at standard@cite-espace.com
Live broadcast on the space news website www.enjoyspace.com


07/10/2010: Flyby of asteroid Lutetia by Rosetta at 17h45 local time at an altitude of 3000 km

This fly-by will take place at 457 millions of kilometres from our planet and will enable an estimation of its main characteristics.
Lutetia is about 100 km in diameter, thus superb images are expected. In addition to most of the orbiter's instruments, 3 of Philae instruments will be switched on (1 magnetometer and 2 spectrometers if an exosphere is present to "sniff").


04/26-05/12/2010: Payload Check-Out n°12

The main objective is to test a new version of the main CDMS flight software dedicated to the comet phase. The basic functions of memory storage and communication with the orbiter will be checked. It will be an opportunity to change or refresh flight software of instruments and revalidate their nominal functioning and prepare with Ptolemy the coming Lutetia fly-by on July 10, 17h45 local time.

2009 Events

11/13/2009: Earth Swing-By n°3

For Rosetta the last planet speeds up to achieve a trajectory very close to that of the comet. Lowest altitude aimed at closest approach: 2480 km. Philae was not activated, orbiter experiments only calibrated their instruments.

USA by night
USA by night
© ESA 2009 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA


09/23-10/05/2009: Payload Check-Out n°10

Main objectives: change flight software of 3 instruments and validate their nominal functioning, exercise SD2 drill in translation and rotation modes, test the synchronisation of orbiter and lander parts of Consert, check the interference levels when 2 instruments are working in parallel.


02/17-02/20/2009: Thermal characterisation

Use of Philae illumination during one Rosetta slew to better characterise the thermal behaviour of the lander.

2008 Events

09/05/2008: Success of Steins Flyby

(closest approach at 800 km distance at 18h 38 TU): the probe took asteroid pictures that show original outlines, an enormous crater and a peculiar alignment of smaller craters. Results of other instruments will arrive in the coming days. The Philae Lander also activated 2 instruments for scientific purposes, Romap and Sesame, to respectively try to detect variation of the magnetic field and dust impacts.

Steins Asteroid seen by Osiris
© ESA 2009 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA


07/10-08/04/2008: Payload Check-Out n°8

Main objectives: change the CDMS flight software from V6.0 to V7.0, activate SD2 in a drill translation mode for the first time, but a lot of other tests also.

2007 Events

11/13/2007: Earth Swing-By n°2

Successful swing-by of the Earth at a lowest altitude of 5295 km: Romap is measuring the Earth magnetic field
A few photos taken by Rosetta


09/24-09/29/2007: Payload Check-Out n°6

A lot of software improvements and tests of instrument new modes were executed successfully


05/22/2007: Passive check-Out n°5

All on-board operations (scientific instruments and sub-systems) run automatically were successful


05/03 and 05/17/2007: Mupus Contengency tests

Patches of the MUPUS experiment flight software were uploaded successfully to prepare the PC6 in September


02/25/2007: Philae operations realised during Mars Swing-By were completely successful

  • During the period of sun eclipse behind the planet, the orbiter was put in a basic mode close to survival mode. As the lander can work in autonomously with its batteries, this opportunity was used to test Philae's autonomy for the first time, that is the operating mode once it will be landed on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet in 2014 during the extended mission (after the main operation period on primary batteries). The batteries and mass memory (MM for the scientific experiments and MM of the CDMS) management was completely in accordance with expectations.
     
  • 2 scientific instruments were switched on during the closest approach of the planet: the ROMAP magnetometer (Graz University) measured the effects of the Mars magnetic field while CIVA's cameras (Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale) took beautiful pictures of the Red planet.

Image taken by CIVA during Mars swing-by
CIVA image of Mars planet (with the Rosetta orbiter and one of its solar panels)


02/25/2007: Mars Swing-By with closest approach at 1h53 UTC

2006 Events

11/28-12/09/2006: Active Check-Out


09/28/2006: 2nd deep space manoeuvre


08/2006: Passive Check-Out n°3


03/2006: Passive Check-Out n°2

2005 Events

10/2005: Passive check-Out n°1


07/04/2005: Observation of the Deep Impact event


03/29-03/30/2005: Passive check-Out n°0


03/04/2005: 22h09 Earth closest approach at 1954 km


03/01-03/08/2005: First Earth Flyby: ROMAP and CIVA activities

2004 Events

10/05-10/09/2004: Fourth in-flight commissioning period of Philae lander

Operations were the following:

  • tests of SD2, CIVA, COSAC, PTOLEMY chained operations,
  • repetition of the passive checkout activities that will be run during the Cruise,
  • experiment tests in new modes.

Results were excellent. Tests of combined experiment activities show that Philae is ready to work as it will do once landed on the comet. Of course the drill could not be Used, but the carrousel turned and proved that it is able to make the comet samples available for chemical analysis.
The only breakdown comes from the ROMAP penning sensor that should have measured the pressure on the comet outside the lander. ROMAP itself is not concerned.
Ground operations were also nominal, the different entities, LCC, SONC, RMOC work as perfectly as during the previous operations blocks.


10/01-10/02/2004: CONSERT solar panel influence operations


09/08-09/09/2004: ROMAP/RPC Draconide encounter operations


05/13-05/21/2004: Third in-flight commissioning period of Philae lander

The operations have been shared between the Koln DLR control centre (LCC: tests of the subsystems) and the Toulouse CNES one (SONC: tests of the instruments).
After the basic tests of each instrument performed during the previous period (April 2004), the new tests were devoted to combined operations between instruments. The obtained results have shown an excellent compatibility between the experiments, as requested for the on-comet operations.
Among the returned data, the most spectacular ones concerns the images of the CIVA experiment micro-cameras of the back side of the orbiter solar array (in shadow) and of the interior of an oven of the sample drill and distribution system (SD2).
During this test period, the orbiter was at 36 millions of km from the Earth, corresponding to a propagation time of about 2 minutes.

Générateur solaire
orbiter solar array
Four à échantillons
oven of the sample drill and distribution system


04/19/2004: In-flight operations news

Immediately after its successful launch on the 2nd March 2004, the Rosetta orbiter has realized an automatic procedure for reaching a stable configuration, particularly for power and communications (solar array deployment, sun and Earth acquisition...).
Then, the ESA control Centre in Darmstadt (ESOC - Germany) took command of the orbiter to reach the final orbital configuration (antenna deployments, tanks pressurisation, unlatching of the lander nuts...).
These operations having been done with success, the in orbit commissioning has been started, in view to check if the launch and the space environment did not damage the on board equipment.
At first, the orbiter sub-systems have been tested then the scientific payload instruments, including the Philae lander.
The tests of the orbiter instruments have been performed from ESOC while the ones for the lander were shared between DLR (Lander Control Centre, Cologne, Germany), for its sub-systems, and CNES (Scientific Operation & Navigation Centre, Toulouse, France), for its instruments.
All these operations went right: all sub-systems and instruments are in good shape and the ground segment and its staffs were fully operational.
During these operations, the orbiter was about 14 million km away from the Earth, inducing time delay of about 50 seconds and large propagation loss requiring the use of a 30 m dish antenna.


04/09-04/14/2004: Seconf in-flight commissioning period of Philae lander


03/17/2004: Continuation of the in-flight operations

The Lander sub-systems have been successfully tested during the operations' first block (12th to 17th of March), leading to the instruments tests in April.


03/12/2004: Continuation of the in-flight operations

The antenna of the French experiment Consert was deployed successfully the 10/03 and the analyses of the signals measured by the receiver of this experiment show its correct operation, particularly with an excellent sensitivity.
Choice of the Asteroids for the ROSETTA Mission
The dispersions during the orbit injection having been very low, 2 fly-by of asteroids are now planned in the profile of mission: Steins (in Automn 2008) and Lutetia (in Summer 2010).
The excellent performance of ARIANE thus makes it possible to still increase the objectives and the scientific return of the Rosetta mission.


03/02/2004: In-flight operations

These operations begun a few minutes after the separation from the launcher.
At first, mechanical deployment operations were performed:

  • The solar pannels were successfully deployed and the supplied electrical power is nominal.
  • The PHILAE Lander bolding mecanisms have been desactivated.
  • The high gain antenna was deployed.

The indications acquired during these operations show that the main satellite and the Lander have withstood the launch very well.
The next in-flight commissioning operations will consist in testing in depth of each sub-system then each experiment, including the lander.


03/02/2004: Arianespace Flight 158 successful!!!

The success of the flight 158 leads us to express 2 complete satisfactions

  • satisfaction on the Ariane launcher which, on an atypical and difficult mission profile, has shown a remarquable flexibility,
  • satisfaction for the Rosetta project which will enable the european cometary science, to come back to the first place in the world.

This wonderful success illustrates the excellent scientific and technical levels that can be reached by Europe when it joints its energy on great ambitions.


02/05-02/06/2004: Lander Operations Working Group Meeting (LOWG) at DLR/MUSC (Köln)


02/05/2004: The Rosetta lander got a name: Philae

Like the Philae obelisk which provided an essential key to the Rosetta Stone to help the deciphering of the egyptian hieroglyphs, the Philae Lander will help the Rosetta Orbiter to unlock the mysteries of the comets.


01/09/2004: Simulation tests

2003 Events

10/21/2003: System Validation Test 3.2


09/19/2003: Lander End-to-End test


06/2003-12/2003: Three kinds of activities took place during the second semester 2003

  • Based upon the mission analysis realised to study the possibility to land on a new target, a modification has been brought to the landing gear, to allow it to withstand a higher impact speed.
  • Moreover, functional tests enabled to control the lander good operationing after its storage period. Simultaneously, the lander ground model (GRM) integration was carried out, which enabled to validate a new version of the on board management software, which was then, downloaded in the flight model.
  • At last, the lander ground segment was tested inside and out, in interface with the ESOC, and the in-flight commissioning operations have been refined.

05/20-05/21/2003: 5th Lander Operations Working Group Meeting (LOWG) at CNES (Toulouse)


05/2003: ROSETTA back on track after 3 months of intense activity, the new mission is approuved

Following the launch report of last January, the Rosetta project started immediatly actions to passivate the spacecraft in Kourou. In parallel, research work on new mission profiles was engaged. Two targets fitting with all the constraints were found: the initial comet Wirtanen, still accessible in January 2004 with a PROTON launcher (more powerfull than an Ariane 5 G+) and the Churyumov Gerasimenko comet, reachable in February 2004 with an Ariane 5 G+ and beginning 2005 with an Ariane 5 ECA or a PROTON.
The first information on the Churyumov comet indicating a much massive comet, mission analyses on the lander mission feasibility have been carried out, particularly on the separation, descent and landing phase. Furthermore, the detailled characterisation of the nucleus has been realized thanks to a Hubble Space Telescope observation campaign.
On these bases, although a volume about 30 times larger than the Wirtanen one, making landing more difficult but still feasible, the Churyumov Gerasimenko comet has been selected, by the scientists involved in the mission, as prime target, a launch on PROTON beginning 2004 being identifyed by ESA as a more risky option. This recommendation has been approuved by the ESA Scientific Program Committee during its meeting of the 13th May.
Rendez-vous is thus taken for the launch in Kourou between Feb 26th and March 24th 2004.


02/03-02/04/2003: Following the report of the launch, a workshop is organised in DLR/MUSC to address the storage as well as the constraints for the definition of the back-up mission profiles


01/2003: Arianespace and ESA announced the delay of the Rosetta lission (Press Release 03/2003)

This interupts the on-going activities in launch preparation and in-orbit commissioning.
Alternative scenarii allowing to achieve the same mission objectives exist with a launch date as soon as beginning 2004 . Analyses have already begun to determine the best strategy.
The Flight Segment design, particularly the Lander one, has taken into account a large range of technical constraints. The expected changes do not put on hold the realisation of the mission.
CNES and DLR will do the required effort to ensure, with their partners, the complete success of this unique project.


12/2002-01/2003-02/2003: RLGS operational validation

2002 Events

11/26-11/28/2002: Technical and Operational Validation Review


10/29-10/30/2002: 4th Lander Operations Working Group Meeting (LOWG) at DLR/MUSC (Köln)


10/08/2002: Rosetta Lander Steering Committee at CNES headquarters in Paris (France) for an authorisation to launch


10/07/2002: Rosetta Lander Science Meeting at ESA headquarters in Paris (France)


09/12/2002: Rosetta satellite arrived in Kourou


06/04-06/05/2002: 3rd Lander Operations Working Group Meeting (LOWG) in CNES Toulouse (France)


03/27/2002: Rosetta Lander Ground Segment (RLGS) Critical Design Review (CDR) end of Phase C in Toulouse (France).


03/04/2002: SONC Design Key Point in Toulouse.


03/13/2002: LCC Design Key Point in Köln

2001 Events

10/24/2001: RLGS Preliminary Design Review (PDR) end of phase B in Toulouse.


08/20-08/24/2001: Science Working Team Meeting in Kloster Seeon.


01/23/2001: RLGS Preliminary Requirements Review (RLGS PRR) in Toulouse.

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