Rosetta's Odd Orbit Around Comet 67/D
Kyle Maxey posted on February 12, 2014 |

space, comet, research, X-ray, materials, science, ESA, minerals

space, comet, research, X-ray, materials, science, ESA, minerals

In a new animation the ESA has detailed the odd, but precisely controlled orbit that the robotic Rosetta spacecraft will take before it begins lander based investigations of the 4km diameter Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

According to the ESA, “After a ten year journey through space, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014.”

After catching up with the comet Rosetta will slightly overtake and enter orbit from the ‘front’ of the comet as both the spacecraft and 67P/CG move along their orbits around the Sun. Rosetta will carry out a complex series of maneuvers to reduce the separation between the spacecraft and comet from around 100 km to 25-30 km.

From this close orbit, detailed mapping will allow scientists to determine the landing site for the mission’s Philae lander. Immediately prior to the deployment of Philae in November, Rosetta will come to within just 2.5 km of the comet’s nucleus.”

Once on the surface of 67P the Philae lander will probe the comet in an effort to determine its composition. Given that the lander is equipped with 10 separate instruments including a gas chromatograph, an alpha proton X-ray spectrometer, and a number of other sensor I have the feeling that if the mission doesn’t crater we’ll know a lot more about comets in the next few years.

Images Courtesy of ESA

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