This short movie tells the story of Rosetta’s journey through the Solar System and its exploration of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko so far, through the voices of some of the many people involved in this exciting mission.
ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft was launched in March 2004 and has chased down the comet for 10 years, reaching it on 6 August 2014. It is the first space mission to orbit a comet and to attempt a soft landing. It will also be the first mission to journey with a comet as they swing around the Sun throughout 2015.
In the last 10 years Rosetta has made three flybys of Earth and one of Mars, and passed by and imaged asteroids Steins and Lutetia. In June 2011, Rosetta was placed into deep-space hibernation as it cruised nearly 800 million kilometres from the warmth of the Sun, close to the orbit of Jupiter. This was necessary because not enough energy could be generated by the solar panels to keep all the spacecraft systems operating. On 20 January 2014, Rosetta woke up from hibernation and continued its journey towards the comet.
Rosetta first viewed its target from a distance in 2011. After the wake-up, the first sight of the comet came in March 2014. Since then, Rosetta scientists have been following the comet’s activity, studying it with various instruments on board. As Rosetta drew closer and closer in July, the complex shape of this double-lobed object was revealed.
After Rosetta arrived at the comet in August, it started mapping the surface in greater detail, leading to the selection of a target for the lander, Philae, in September 2014. The site, now named Agilkia after an island on the Nile river, is located on the smaller lobe of the comet.
Rosetta is scheduled to release Philae on 12 November and, seven hours later, the lander is expected to reach the comet’s surface.
Acknowledgements: The images of the comet were taken with the OSIRIS camera (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA) and with the navigation camera (ESA/Rosetta/NavCam) on Rosetta; the self-portraits were taken with the CIVA instrument on Philae (ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA); the ground-based images of the comet were taken using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. The images of asteroids Steins and Lutetia were also taken with the OSIRIS camera.