This is an artist’s rendition of Rosetta’s closest approach to Earth during its second swing-by of our planet on 13 November this year. The image shows the fly-by configuration as seen from above.
This month’s Earth swing-by is Rosetta’s third major step on its 10-year journey to comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A trajectory correction manoeuvre successfully performed last month prepared ESA’s comet chaser for the upcoming encounter, and now Rosetta is right on track.
In swinging by Earth, the spacecraft will have gained the right amount of energy from Earth’s gravity to save precious fuel for later on.
Closest approach will take place on 13 November 2007 at 21:57 CET, at which time Rosetta will speed past at 45 000 km/h (about 12.5 km/s) relative to Earth. At this time, Rosetta will be 5301km above the Pacific Ocean, south-west of Chile, at 63° 46’ south and 74° 35’ west.
During this Earth swing-by, a few experiments both on the orbiter and the Philae lander will be activated for calibration, scientific measurements and imaging. Rosetta will first point to Earth and then to the Moon for the observations.