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It would be impossible for Rosetta to reach its destination without the ‘spacecraft navigators’ – the flight dynamics experts who predict and determine its trajectory, prepare orbit manoeuvres and determine its attitude.
The experts work with data from ground stations and from the spacecraft itself to determine the precise locations of Rosetta and its destination comet, feeding this information back to the operations teams who ‘fly’ the missions.
This demands precise, careful work and every calculation is double-checked to ensure the outcome is correct and accurate.
Rosetta’s journey to the comet has been assisted by use of the ‘delta DOR’ – for Delta Differential One-way Ranging – technique. Measurements from a pair of widely separated ground stations determine the position of the spacecraft to within less than a few km.