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Rosetta Orbiter

Phase: Operating

Launch Date: March 02, 2004

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Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014. The main spacecraft will orbit the comet, while taking scientific measurements. A Surface Science Package (SSP) will land on the comet surface to take in-situ measurements. NASA has contributed three instruments to Rosetta - ALICE, MIRO, and IES - plus a significant portion of the electronics package for another instrument, ROSINA. ALICE , MIRO, and IES will provide information about the dynamics of comet C-G: how it develops its coma and tails, and how its chemicals interact with each other, and with radiation and the solar wind.

The principal goals are to study the origin of comets, the relationship between cometary and interstellar material and its implications with regard to the origin of the solar system. Its scientific objectives to achieve these goals are:

  • global characterization of the 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 characterisation of asteroids, including determination of dynamic properties, surface morphology and composition.

Rosetta has a complex trajectory including three Earth and one Mars gravity assist maneuvre before finally reaching the comet finally reaching the comet after flybys of the asteroids Steins and Lutetia. On arrival at 67P Rosetta will enter orbit around the comet and stay with it as it journeys in towards the Sun.

Comet Quest
We are excited to announce another free NASA iPhone/iPad game created by the Space Place team. Learn about comets and the Rosetta mission while playing the fast-moving, immersive action game “Comet Quest.” It’s like the real Rosetta mission, but with you in control of the spacecraft: First, drop the comet lander carefully onto the nucleus; observe and record gas jets, craters, cracks, and other happenings; dodge and dart around ice chunks flying off the nucleus; and, in your sparetime, communicate with the lander and with Earth. Find it at the Apple app store.