4 November 2009
ESA’s comet chaser Rosetta will swing by Earth for the last time on 13 November to pick up energy and begin the final leg of its 10-year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA’s European Space Operations Centre will host a media briefing on that day.
This will be the third Earth swingby, the last of Rosetta’s four planetary gravity assists. Closest approach to Earth is expected at 08:45 CET (07:45 UT). The swingby will provide exactly the boost Rosetta needs to continue into the outer Solar System. The spacecraft is scheduled for a close encounter with asteroid 21 Lutetia in July next year, before it goes into hibernation early in 2011, only to wake up in early 2014 for approach to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
As the most primitive objects in the Solar System, the chemical composition of comets has not changed much since their formation. They preserve a record of the early Solar System.
When it reaches 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, Rosetta will be the first mission to orbit and deploy a lander on a comet. It will help to reconstruct the history of our neighbourhood in space.
The spacecraft is operated from ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
Media interested in following Rosetta’s last Earth swingby may participate in a press briefing organised at ESOC on 13 November. Time: 8:15 – 9:15 CET
Location: ESA ESOC, Robert Bosch Strasse 5, Darmstadt, Germany RSVP via telephone or email (contact details below) before 11 November 2009.
Those unable to attend can follow near-realtime updates on:
The Rosetta blog (esa.int/blog)
The ESA Rosetta website (esa.int/rosetta)
The ESA Spacecraft Operations website (esa.int/ops)
A timeline of critical events is available on the Rosetta website.