Encyclopedia Astronautica
Rosetta


European comet probe. One launch, 2004.03.02. European comet orbiter/landing mission.

The International Rosetta Mission was approved in November 1993 by ESA's Science Program Committee. The original goal was to rendezvous with comet 46P/Wirtanen. After technical problems led to the launch window for this comet being missed in January 2003, Rosetta was instead launched toward Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 14 months later. To gain enough energy to reach its target, one Mars and three Earth gravity assists would be required. At least one, and possibly more, asteroids would be flown by during the long flight to the comet. The mission profile was as follows:

  • Launch: March 2004
  • First Earth gravity assist March: 2005
  • Mars gravity assist March: 2007
  • Second Earth gravity assist: November 2007
  • Third Earth gravity assist: November 2009
  • Enter hibernation: July 2011
  • Exit hibernation: January 2014
  • Rendezvous maneuver: May 2014. Rosetta would enter orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and stay with it as it journeys in towards the Sun
  • Global Mapping of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: August 2014
  • Lander Delivery: The Philae lander would be released from Rosetta and attempt to make the first landing on a comet: November 2014
  • Perihelion Passage: August 2015
  • End of Mission: December 2015

Rosetta carried sensors for the following mission objectives:

  • Global characterization of the comet nucleus, determination of dynamic properties, surface morphology and composition;
  • Determination of the chemical, mineralogical and isotopic compositions of volatiles and refractories in a cometary nucleus;
  • Determination of the physical properties and interrelation of volatiles and refractories in a cometary nucleus;
  • Study of the development of cometary activity and the processes in the surface layer of the nucleus and the inner coma (dust/gas interaction);
  • Global characterization of asteroids, including determination of dynamic properties, surface morphology and composition.

Rosetta took its name from the Rosetta Stone, an inscription discovered during Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. The inscription provided the same message in three languages and provided the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The Rosetta spacecraft was a box-type central structure, 2.8 m x 2.1 m x 2.0 m, on which all subsystems and payload equipment were mounted. Two solar panels, of combined area 64 m2, stretch out to 14 m in length. The total span was 32 m. The Rosetta orbiter carried the following sensor suite:

  • Remote sensing: OSIRIS, ALICE, VIRTIS, MIRO
  • Composition analysis: ROSINA, COSIMA, MIDAS
  • Nucleus large-scale structure: CONSERT
  • Dust flux and mass distribution: GIADA
  • Comet plasma environment and solar wind interaction: RPC
  • Radio science: RSI

The Philae lander weighed 90 kg and carried the SD2 sample drilling and distribution device.

The mission would be controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt. Communications would be via ESA's 35 m ground station at New Narcia, near Perth, Australia, with additional support during near-Earth phases from the ESA 15 m ground station in Kourou.

Gross mass: 2,900 kg (6,300 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 1,322 kg (2,914 lb).
Payload: 159 kg (350 lb).
Height: 2.80 m (9.10 ft).
Diameter: 2.00 m (6.50 ft).
Span: 32.00 m (104.00 ft).
First Launch: 2004.03.02.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Ariane 5 The Ariane 5 was a completely new design, unrelated to the earlier Ariane 1 to 4. It consisted of a single-engine Lox/LH2 core stage flanked by two solid rocket boosters. Preparatory work began in 1984. Full scale development began in 1988 and cost $ 8 billion. The design was sized for the Hermes manned spaceplane, later cancelled. This resulted in the booster being a bit too large for the main commercial payload, geosynchronous communications satellites. As a result, development of an uprated version capable of launching two such satellites at a time was funded in 2000. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Ariane 5 French orbital launch vehicle. The Ariane 5 was a completely new design, unrelated to the earlier Ariane 1 to 4. It consisted of a single-engine Lox/LH2 core stage flanked by two solid rocket boosters. Preparatory work began in 1984. Full scale development began in 1988 and cost $ 8 billion. The design was sized for the Hermes manned spaceplane, later cancelled. This resulted in the booster being a bit too large for the main commercial payload, geosynchronous communications satellites. As a result, development of an uprated version capable of launching two such satellites at a time was funded in 2000. More...
  • Ariane 5G French orbital launch vehicle. Initial version of the Ariane 5, a bit too large for the main commercial geosynchronous communications satellite payloads. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • ESA European agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. European Space Agency, Europe. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group Website, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Space-Launcher.com, Orbital Report News Agency. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Rosetta: Europe's Comet Chaser, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, The International Rosetta Mission , Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Kourou After the agreement with newly independent Algeria for France to evacuate their launch sites in that country, a location near Biscarosse was selected for French missile testing. However since only launches westwards across the Bay of Biscay could be made from this site, it was unsuitable for France's Diamant orbital launch vehicle. After reviewing 14 potential sites, a location in the South American French colony of Guiana was selected. This would allow over-water launches to a tremendous range of possible orbital inclinations -- from -100.5 deg to 1.5 deg. Being near the equator, it would provide the maximum assist from the earth's rotation for launches into equatorial orbits. The decision was formalized in April 1964 and in July 1966 ELDO chose the site for future launches of the Europa II launch vehicle. More...

Rosetta Chronology


2004 March 2 - . 07:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA3. LV Family: Ariane 5. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5Gp. LV Configuration: Ariane 5G+ V158 (518).
  • Rosetta - . Mass: 3,065 kg (6,757 lb). Nation: Europe. Agency: ESA. Manufacturer: Friedrichshafen. Class: Comet. Type: Comet probe. Spacecraft: Rosetta. USAF Sat Cat: 28169 . COSPAR: 2004-006A. Summary: Launch delayed from January 13, 2003, February 26 and 27, 2004..

2005 March 4 - .
  • Rosetta, first Earth Gravity Assist, Successful - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Rosetta.

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