Call for Media: Rosetta flyby of asteroid Lutetia on 10 July

Artist's impression of Rosetta asteroid fly-by
30 June 2010

ESA PR-14 2010: The media are invited to ESA's Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to follow Rosetta's encounter with asteroid Lutetia on 10 July, 18:00–23:00 CEST. The first images of the asteroid will be released before midnight, with experts available for interview.

ESA's Rosetta comet-chaser is en route to its main target, comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, arriving in 2014. On Saturday, 10 July, it will fly past the previously unvisited asteroid Lutetia.

This is an important milestone in Rosetta's long voyage, which began in 2004, and marks a rare opportunity to observe a primitive body such as an asteroid.

After encountering Lutetia, Rosetta will not perform scientific activities until reaching Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014. It will then observe the comet for 18 months, releasing a lander onto the comet in November 2014.

Rosetta asteroid fly-by
Artist's impression of Rosetta asteroid fly-by

Lutetia will be the second asteroid studied during Rosetta's journey. The Steins flyby took place on 5 September 2008, approaching to within 800 km.

Lutetia is a much bigger asteroid, so the flyby will be no closer than about 3200 km. Any nearer and Rosetta would not be able to fit the whole asteroid into the camera's field of view.

The close pass will allow around two hours of observational opportunities. The spacecraft will rapidly begin beaming its data to Earth and the first pictures will be released later that evening.

The Rosetta science and flight operations teams will be on hand to provide commentary, and to answer questions during the event.

European Space Operations Centre ESA / ESOC
Robert-Bosch-Straße 5
D-64293 Darmstadt

Media Event Programme

Note: All times in CEST

16:30   Doors open to media and guests – interview opportunities
18:00   Welcome to ESOC, and the role of ESA Operations, Manfred Warhaut, Head of ESA’s Operations Department
18:05   Preparing to visit an asteroid, Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager
18:10   Closest Approach – Lutetia Flyby Manoeuvres LIVE
18:12   Rosetta mission overview, Gerhard Schwehm, Rosetta Mission Manager
18:16   Rosetta and the study of asteroids, Rita Schulz, Rosetta Project Scientist
18:20   Understanding asteroids for ESA’s Space Situational Awareness programme, Manfred Warhaut, Head of ESA’s Operations Department
18:23   Rosetta within the European Science Programme, Prof. David Southwood, ESA’s Director for Science and Robotic Exploration
18:40   Waiting for the return of spacecraft data, Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager
18:50   ESOC garden barbeque, including TV transmission of Soccer World Cup match for third place
23:00   The first images of Lutetia, comments from Rita Schulz, Rosetta Project Scientist, and Holger Sierks, MPI for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau (DE)
23:10   Q&A with Rosetta team
23:30   End of event (further interview opportunities)
23:45   ESA’s Operations Centre closes to all external guests

Further updates including the Rosetta blog and live web-streaming of the entire event via:

Media Accreditation:

Journalists wishing to attend the event are requested to send an email with their full contact details to:
(Tel. +49 6151 90 25 16)

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