Preparations for Rosetta’s Earth swing-by scheduled for tonight, 21:57 CET, are well underway. The manoeuvre executed on 18 October 2007 has been accurate enough to not require any additional trajectory corrections today.
This means that the most critical operational procedures for the success of the swing-by are now over. However, the operations teams are constantly on the watch to make sure that nothing disturbs the spacecraft’s velocity and direction and that its stability is maintained throughout the observations.
The core observations will start only in the afternoon, but the instruments are already being prepared for the delicate procedures. The spacecraft has been pointed to certain areas in the sky for calibration and this will continue for about 24 hours. During the swing-by, Rosetta will first point to Earth and will observe the Earth-Moon system as a whole afterwards.
Listen to the update from the Spacecraft Operations Manager for ESA’s comet chaser.