Rosetta’s Rendezvous

If all goes well, by the time this post goes up, the Rosetta spacecraft will have begun it’s rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko early this morning. Rosetta will carry out a complex series of maneuvers to reduce bring the spacecraft to within about 100 km of the comet and then down to 25 to 30 km. The spacecraft will begin mapping the comet from that distance to find a landing site for the mission’s Philae lander. In November, Rosetta will come to within just 2.5 km of the comet’s nucleus to deploy the lander. The objects in the animation is not to scale; Rosetta’s solar arrays span 32 m, and the comet is approximately 4 km wide.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNBUep7mPdI]

Video Credit: ESA

20 thoughts on “Rosetta’s Rendezvous


  1. I watched an interesting documentary yesterday. It was called Particle Fever and it was about the LHC and the discovery(?) of the Higgs boson. It gave me a lot of things to think about and possibly learn something about. If there are no Higgs bosons left (that was either stated in the documentary or in the transcript of a radio interview with Martin White) where did the ones they detected come from? If the Higgs was supposed to have a mass of either 115Gev, supporting supersymmetry, or 140Gev, supporting a multiverse and the end of the quest for truth in physics, why did the detected particle weigh in at 125Gev?

    I have a long day of reading to do now. Thanks, physics!


  2. I’m assuming that Rosetta will fly though the tail. A) Will it be taking sample of the ejecta and B) What are the chances it will be damaged by the small particles hitting it at warp speed?


    • Today there is no tail since 67P is currently way too far from the sun for that. It will, however, be well inside the coma for quite some time. Sparse amounts of dust (mostly tiny) will flake off when the comet gets closer to the sun and there is more evaporation. But there’s only so fast such dust can get launched by evaporation. Added to that will be the Rosetta spacecraft’s orbital velocity in the few m/s range. Probably comparable to hitting small bugs (mainly pollen, really) with your car at below highway speeds.


      • Man, I hit a bug the other day at about 70mph that I thought was gonna crack the windshield!

        Massive, hard, full of eggs, yet very juicy…SPLAT!!!!!

        We grow ’em big in the Midwest!

        Reminds me of the time Aunt Fern sucked down an Iowa junebug at 50+mph while riding on the back of my motorcycle!

        Woman couldn’t talk for weeks, which, had you known Aunt Fern, you would understand was a marvel!

        Her first, and last, motorcycle ride…she walked back to town.


      • Good info. Since the brains at NASA decided to show a tail in the vid, I just assumed (there’s that word again) that there would be one in reality. My God, what else have they lied to us about? The moon landing??


      • IIRC, last time they tried a coma/tail sample the re-entry vehicle streamered and pancaked on the desert floor. All the capture cells were compromised. Set the project back several years.


  3. Shhhhh nobody tell “you know who” that NBC played a video from the ESA without mention it was from ESA. Why I bet they copyrighted the show so that means they tried to copyright ESA material as their own. But nobody tell the famous legal scholar or he might sue NBC out of existence.

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