Rosetta Spacecraft Mission

Rosetta is a unique and fantastic mission to the short-period comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P). It is the first ever mission to rendezvous with, orbit and land on a comet.

Rosetta and Philae.  Image: ESA.

Current Status:

Current Status: June 14th: Having been dormant for months, the Philae lander has been able to gather enough light (as Comet 67P draws closer to the Sun) to enable it to send a signal back to Earth. Philae has indeed ‘woken up’. Exciting!

On November 12th, the Philae lander seperated from the Rosetta Spacecraft to make its seven hour journey to the comet’s surface. On touchdown, the lander’s harpoons failed to fire and Philae bounced twice before coming to rest on the surface (around 1km from its intended landing site). Philae’s CIVA module has sent images from the surface of Comet 67P but ESA are unsure whether Philae’s position enables it to gather enough light to recharge its batteries sufficiently.

Philae’s CIVA sent an image from the surface of Comet 67P but ESA are unsure whether Philae’s position enables it to gather enough light to recharge its batteries which only had 60 hours of charge left when separated from Rosetta.

ESA’s Video Stream

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As Rosetta is currently alongside it mission target, please see the LIVE Data for Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) page to get an idea of Rosetta’s speed and distance from Earth.
  • March 2004 Launch
Rosetta Trajectory

Rosetta Trajectory

  • April 2004 Instrument Checkout & Comet LINEAR
  • March 2005 Earth 1 Gravity Assist
  • July 2005: Deep Impact Observation
  • Feb 2007: Mars Gravity Assist
  • Nov 2007 Earth 2 Gravity Assist
  • Sept 2008 Asteroid Steins Flyby
  • Nov 2009 Earth 3 Gravity Assist
  • July 2010 Asteroid Lutetia Flyby
  • July 2011 Aphelion/Enter Hibernation
  • Jan 2014 Exit Hibernation
  • May 2014 Major Comet Rendezvous Manoeuvre
  • Aug 2014 Start Global Mapping of Comet C-G
  • Nov 2014 Philae Lands on Comet C-G
  • Aug 2015 Rosetta & Comet Reach Perihelion (closest approach to Sun)
  • Dec 2015 End of mission

Comets are regarded by many as cosmic time capsules – remnants of the birth of our solar system some 4.6 billion years ago. These celestial objects could well hold information about the birth of our solar system or indeed about how life itself came about. Rosetta Stone With that in mind, the ancient Egyptian Rosetta Stone (according to the Oxford Dictionary) has been used in the past “to represent a crucial key to the process of decryption of encoded information”, thus comparing this to unlocking the secrets of a comet, we can see how the Rosetta spacecraft acquired its name.

Further to that, the Philae lander was named after the Philae Obelisk which together with the Rosetta Stone provided our first understanding of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Initially Rosetta was supposed to visit a different comet named Wirtanen, but after a number of delays due to launch failures of the Ariane 5 rocket, Rosetta was reprogrammed to visit 67P(C-G) instead. Rosetta together with the Philae Lander eventually blasted off into space on 2nd March 2004.