Timeline: Mars swingby at 36 000 km/hr

Animated sequence illustrating Rosetta's slew
Animated sequence illustrating Rosetta's slew
23 February 2007

The timeline for Rosetta's speedy swingby of Mars on 25 February includes a series of slew manoeuvres, an occultation and signal blackout, an eclipse and some excellent opportunities for scientific observations.

Rosetta's Mars swingby kicks off today with a series of complex slew manoeuvres to enable instrument calibration. The spacecraft has been correctly lined up on the proper trajectory since a series of engine firings in the past several weeks.

Rosetta is expected to pass the Red Planet at 250 km altitude and 36 191 km/hr with respect to Mars at closest approach. The swingby should reduce Rosetta's velocity with respect to the Sun by 7887 km/hr, and the spacecraft should depart Mars travelling at 78 779 km/hr relative to the Sun.

Timeline of major activities

Note: Times shown are ground event times in Central European Time, equivalent to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) + 1 hour. Spacecraft event time is 17 mins 33 secs earlier.

23 February

17:32 First of a series of slew manoeuvres to perform instrument calibrations
19:30 Flight Control Team in ESOC's Main Control Room (MCR) around the clock

24 February

Rosetta swingby seen from Earth
View from Earth: Rosetta passing Mars
~14:00 Webcam in MCR switched on (access via link at right)
18:35 Additional slew manoeuvres to perform Mars observations with onboard instruments
22:30 End of observations until after Mars swingby

25 February

02:15
-- All payload instruments switched off; CIVA camera (onboard lander) remains in operation and scheduled to take images
-- Loss of telemetry; S-band carrier signal remains
03:13
-- Occultation starts; Rosetta behind Mars
-- Loss of S-band signal; no communication with spacecraft
03:15
-- Closest approach to Mars (250 km)
-- Start of eclipse; no visibility for camera; no sunlight on solar panels
03:28
-- End of occultation; S-band carrier signal back
-- Receipt of S-band carrier signal provides initial technical confirmation of swingby success
03:40 End of eclipse; sunrise above Mars
03:50 Start of Phobos and Mars tracking with additional scientific observations
03:52
-- Acquisition of telemetry (radio signal & data); full technical confirmation of swingby success
-- Downloading of science data begins
After 13:00 Results expected to be available on ESA portal

ESA/NASA interagency cooperation supports Rosetta

ESA's first 35-metre deep-space ground station
New Norcia: ESA's first 35m deep-space station

Increased ground tracking support has been scheduled throughout the swingby period.

In addition to ESA's 35m deep-space station at New Norcia, NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) stations at Goldstone, Canberra and Madrid will participate.

The two agencies often work together and regularly share tracking station resources.

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