Rome 01 September 2014
Rosetta, the European Space Agency spacecraft built by Thales Alenia Space and launched toward the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet on March 2nd, 2004, achieved its goal and, at a distance from Earth of about 400 million kilometers, is close to the comet getting more and more detailed images of the its nucleus.
Rosetta is the first mission designed to study the nucleus of a comet and was reactivated in January this year after a period of hibernation that began on June 8th 2011. In these ten years, Rosetta has followed a long interplanetary trajectory that led beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
Thales Alenia Space has taken part in the Rosetta mission as the main contractor for the work on the assembly, satellite integration and testing and the launch campaign, for which he also provided the definition and procurement of mechanical and electrical equipment.
Telespazio VEGA Deutschland developed partly the Mission Control System, developed the Mission Planning System as well as the orbiter simulator. Currently, the Flight Control Team at ESOC that consists in large parts of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland staff, uses this simulator to prepare for real operations.
While journeying towards the Comet, the on-board Navigation Camera provided by Selex ES, has captured high resolution images during the fly-by of the Steins and Lutetia asteroids and will now guide the spacecraft on its journey to meet with Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Another element important element is the spacecraft’s Photovoltaic Assembly, which constitutes solar cells operating at low intensity/low temperature to provide the spacecraft with necessary electrical power even at distances from the Sun.
Scientific instruments on board of the spacecraft allow to study the surface, the composition and the temperature distribution of the comet, to analyze the nature of gases and dust emitted from the nucleus and their interaction with the solar wind.
The scientific objectives of the mission will be pursued through the detailed observations that the main probe, Rosetta Orbiter will orbit around the comet for a few months while it approaches the Sun, releasing a "lander”, recently named "Philae" in November of this year.