Next year, on 20 January, after 957 days of hibernation in deep space, ESA’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft is set to wake up automatically en route to the destination it has been travelling towards for nearly a decade.
In preparation for the critical activation and the challenges that lie ahead for Rosetta, members of the media are invited to a briefing by ESA’s science and mission control experts and partners on Tuesday, 10 December, 10:00–12:30 CET, at ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.
The 20 January milestone will mark the start of an intensive year as Rosetta draws steadily closer to comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko ahead of rendezvous in August. After extensively mapping the comet’s surface, it will dispatch the lander Philae in November for close-up study of the nucleus.
Rosetta will then follow the comet on its journey through the inner Solar System, monitoring the ever-changing conditions as it warms up heading towards its closest approach to the Sun, in August 2015.
Rosetta’s main objective is to help understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System, in particular investigating the role that comets may have played in seeding Earth with water, and perhaps even life.
ESA’s firsts with the Rosetta mission
Rosetta involves several ‘firsts’ in space exploration. It is the first mission to journey beyond the main asteroid belt relying solely on solar cells for power generation, allowing it to operate 800 million kilometres from the Sun.
Once at its target, Rosetta will be the first to orbit a comet and to land a probe on the nucleus, making it one of the most complex and ambitious missions ever undertaken.
Approaching, orbiting and landing on a comet require delicate manoeuvres, and since very little is known about the comet’s surface, a safe landing can only be planned after arrival.
Philae will obtain the first images ever taken on the surface of a comet and it will make the first in-situ analysis of the composition by drilling into the surface.
Philae will be only the second human-made object to land on a cosmic body far from Earth. It will follow the Huygens probe that landed on Saturn’s moon Titan, 1.3 billion kilometres from Earth, in January 2005.
Finally, Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to witness, at close proximity, how a comet changes as it is subjected to the increasing intensity of the Sun’s radiation.
Coverage via webstream
The media briefing will be streamed live via http://www.livestream.com/eurospaceagency
Details will be available via http://www.esa.int/rosetta
For media unable to attend, questions may be submitted as follows:
–Beforehand via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
–During the briefing (phone) via ESA’s dedicated Rosetta contact number: +49 6150 90 4356
–During the briefing (social media) via Twitter (hashtag #askrosetta)
Programme at ESOC 10 December 2013
09:30 Doors open
10:00 Welcome and introduction
Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin, ESOC Head of Communication
10:05 Comets as cosmic time capsules: Rosetta’s scientific goals
Mark McCaughrean, Senior Scientific Advisor, Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration
10:20 Rosetta’s year of living dangerously: critical challenges in catching a comet
Paolo Ferri, Head of Mission Operations
10:35 The role of France in Rosetta
Philippe Gaudon, CNES Rosetta Project Manager
10:45 The role of Germany in Rosetta
Koen Geurts, DLR Rosetta Lander Technical Manager
10:55 ESA’s Rosetta communication campaign
Markus Bauer, Science Communication Officer
11:10 Open Q&A
11:30 Interview opportunities and visit to full-size Rosetta engineering model and dedicated control room
Please register by 12:00 CET, 9 December via http://www.esa.int/rosetta_media_briefing_101213
Details on getting to ESOC: http://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESOC/Getting_to_ESOC
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. It is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more at www.esa.int
For further information:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99