The Arrival: Rosetta Comet Mission

August 5th, 2014

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft was launched in 2004 and will arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6 – a 10 year long voyage.

It will be the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet, escort it as it orbits the Sun, and deploy a lander to its surface.

Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA.

After completing a complex series of nine orbital maneuvers since the end of hibernation on January 20, Rosetta is finally in position to rendezvous with the comet.

A timeline of the most crucial steps leading to Rosetta’s arrival at its target comet on Wednesday includes: Orbit entry on August 6, triggered by a small but crucial thruster firing lasting 6 minutes 26 seconds.

That burn will start at 09:00 GMT (11:00 CEST). The commands were uploaded during the night of August 4.

This burn will tip Rosetta into the first leg of a series of three-legged triangular paths about the comet. The legs will be about 100 km long and it will take Rosetta between three and four days to complete each one.

Mission operations and science teams at ESA and scientists from multiple countries will be following progress closely.

Tune in to a Livestream of arrival activities starting August 6 at 08:00UTC.

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By Leonard David