Rosetta successfully swings-by Mars – next target: Earth
At 03:57 CET today, mission controllers at ESOC, ESA's Space Operations Centre in Germany, confirmed Rosetta's successful swingby of Mars, a key milestone in the 7.1-thousand-million km journey of this unique spacecraft to its target comet in 2014.
The gravitational energy of Mars helped Rosetta change direction, while the spacecraft was decelerated with respect to the Sun by an estimated 7887 km/hour. The spacecraft is now on the correct track towards Earth - its next destination planet whose gravitational energy Rosetta will exploit in November this year to gain acceleration and continue on its trek.
Presented in this article is one two-colour composite image of Mars collected by Rosetta's Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) before closest approach to the planet, and before the orbiter instruments where switched off for the spacecraft's Mars eclipse period.
The OSIRIS narrow-angle camera took this image at 19:28 CET, 24 February. It shows Mars from a distance of 240 000 kms and at a resolution of about 5 kms per pixel. The greenish regions are clouds above the Red Planet's surface.
New images are expected to be available online after 13:00 today.
For more information
ESA Rosetta Mission Manager
Email: gerhard.schwehm @ esa.int
ESA/ESOC Communication Office