On 6 August, after a decade-long journey through space, ESA’s Rosetta will become the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet. Members of the media are invited to join ESA at its European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to mark this momentous occasion.
Since its launch from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 2 March 2004, Rosetta has travelled more than six billion kilometres, passing by Earth three times and Mars once, and flying past two asteroids.
For the most distant part of the journey, when it travelled out to the orbit of Jupiter, Rosetta was put into deep-space hibernation for 31 months, waking up on 20 January 2014 for the final leg of its epic journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
Now, with less than 10 000 km to go, Rosetta is preparing to arrive at its destination.
After rendezvous on 6 August, Rosetta will accompany the comet around the Sun and as it moves back out towards the orbit of Jupiter. The lander, Philae, will be delivered to the comet’s surface in November 2014.
The media are invited to join ESA’s science and mission control experts and partners on Wednesday 6 August, from 09:30 CEST, at ESA’s Operations Centre for the day-long event celebrating the arrival and presenting the latest, high-resolution images of the comet’s nucleus.
Draft programme (Subject to change)
09:30Doors open at ESOC H-building (1st floor)
10:00 Welcome, by Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Mission Operations and Head of the European Space Operations Centre, ESOC
10:05–10:45 Addresses by:
– ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain
– Parliamentary State Secretary Brigitte Zypries, Air and Space Coordinator for the German Federal Government (BMWE)
– Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the DLR German Aerospace Center
– Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the French space agency, CNES
– Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian space agency, ASI (TBC)
– Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration
10:45–11:25 First scientific findings and images from Rosetta’s approach:
– Matt Taylor, ESA Rosetta mission scientist
– Holger Sierks, MPS Göttingen, Germany (PI, OSIRIS instrument)
– Samuel Gulkis, NASA JPL, Pasadena, USA (PI, MIRO instrument)
– Fabrizio Capaccioni, INAF-IAPS, Rome, Italy (PI, VIRTIS instrument)
11:25–12:00 Mission operations and expected arrival at the comet
– Paolo Ferri, Head of Mission Operations Dept., ESA, Darmstadt
– Andrea Accomazzo, ESA Rosetta Flight Director
– Sylvain Lodiot, ESA Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager
– Frank Budnik, ESA Rosetta Flight Dynamics expert
13:00 Press briefing at the new Media Centre, ESOC H building, (Ground floor)
– Moderated interactive session with Rosetta scientists and mission experts to set the scene for upcoming science operations and preparations for the landing
– Presentation of the latest high-resolution image of the comet
14:30 Q & A for media representatives
15:00 End of event, Media Centre closes
Please register by 1August at:
Directions to ESOC http://www.esa.int/About_Us/ESOC/Getting_to_ESOC
ESA TV productions are made available via:
Comet rendezvous on social media
Join the conversation on Twitter using #RosettaAreWeThereYet, and our ESA spacecraft Twitter account @ESA_Rosetta will tell you how much further it is to the comet. Of course, @ESA_Rosetta will also announce when arrival has been confirmed on 6 August.
Members of the public are also invited to join in the celebrations by taking part in the “Rosetta, are we there yet?” photo contest for the chance to win a VIP trip to ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt for the first-ever landing on a comet, in November 2014.
The competition is open now and will accept entries until 07:00 GMT (09:00 CEST) on 6 August. The voting period will begin once Rosetta’s arrival at the comet is confirmed. Full details of the competition: esa.int/RosettaAreWeThereYet
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.