Tagged: ESA Rosetta Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:28 am on September 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Rosetta   

    From NASA: “First Map of Rosetta’s Comet” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Scientists have found that the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — the target of study for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission — can be divided into several regions, each characterized by different classes of features. High-resolution images of the comet reveal a unique, multifaceted world.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    map
    This view of the “belly” and part of the “head” of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko indicates several morphologically different regions.
    Image Credit:
    ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team/MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM

    ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at its destination about a month ago and is currently accompanying the comet as it progresses on its route toward the inner solar system. Scientists have analyzed images of the comet’s surface taken by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, and defined several different regions, each of which has a distinctive physical appearance. This analysis provides the basis for a detailed scientific description of 67P’s surface. A map showing the comet’s various regions is available at:

    http://go.nasa.gov/1pU26L2

    “Never before have we seen a cometary surface in such detail,” says OSIRIS Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Science (MPS) in Germany. In some of the images, one pixel corresponds to a scale of 30 inches (75 centimeters) on the nucleus. “It is a historic moment — we have an unprecedented resolution to map a comet,” he says.

    The comet has areas dominated by cliffs, depressions, craters, boulders and even parallel grooves. While some of these areas appear to be quiet, others seem to be shaped by the comet’s activity, in which grains emitted from below the surface fall back to the ground in the nearby area.

    “This first map is, of course, only the beginning of our work,” says Sierks. “At this point, nobody truly understands how the surface variations we are currently witnessing came to be.”

    As both comet 67P and Rosetta travel closer to the sun during the next few months, the OSIRIS team and other instruments on the payload will monitor the surface to look for changes. While scientists do not expect the borderlines they have identified for the comet’s different regions to vary dramatically, even subtle transformations of the surface may help to explain how cometary activity created such a breathtaking world.

    The new comet maps will offer valuable insights for members of the Rosetta team, who plan to gather in Toulouse, France, on September 13 and 14, to determine a primary and backup landing site from five candidates they previously had selected.

    The scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, was built by a consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (Germany) in collaboration with Center of Studies and Activities for Space, University of Padua (Italy), the Astrophysical Laboratory of Marseille (France), the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, CSIC (Spain), the Scientific Support Office of the European Space Agency (Netherlands), the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (Spain), the Technical University of Madrid (Spain), the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Uppsala University (Sweden) and the Institute of Computer and Network Engineering of the TU Braunschweig (Germany). OSIRIS was financially supported by the national funding agencies of Germany (DLR), France (CNES), Italy (ASI), Spain, and Sweden and the ESA Technical Directorate.

    Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI. Rosetta will be the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet, escort it as it orbits the sun, and deploy a lander to its surface.

    For more information on the U.S. instruments aboard Rosetta, visit:

    http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov

    More information about Rosetta is available at:

    http://www.esa.int/rosetta

    See the full article here.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble,
    Chandra, Spitzer ]and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 6:59 pm on September 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Rosetta,   

    From NASA/JPL at Caltech- “NASA Instrument on Rosetta: First Science Results” 

    JPL

    September 04, 2014
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Maria Martinez
    Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
    210-522-3305
    mmartinez@swri.org

    Markus Bauer
    European Space Agency, Noordwijk, Netherlands
    011-31-71-565-6799
    markus.bauer@esa.int

    A NASA instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Rosetta orbiter has successfully made its first delivery of science data from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    The instrument, named Alice, began mapping the comet’s surface last month, recording the first far-ultraviolet light spectra of the comet’s surface. From the data, the Alice team discovered the comet is unusually dark — darker than charcoal-black — when viewed in ultraviolet wavelengths. Alice also detected both hydrogen and oxygen in the comet’s coma, or atmosphere.

    alice
    ALICE on Rosetta

    Rosetta scientists also discovered the comet’s surface so far shows no large water-ice patches. The team expected to see ice patches on the comet’s surface because it is too far away for the sun’s warmth to turn its water into vapor.

    “We’re a bit surprised at just how unreflective the comet’s surface is and how little evidence of exposed water-ice it shows,” said Alan Stern, Alice principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

    Alice is probing the origin, composition and workings of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to gather sensitive, high-resolution insights that cannot be obtained by either ground-based or Earth-orbiting observation. It has more than 1,000 times the data-gathering capability of instruments flown a generation ago, yet it weighs less than nine pounds (four kilograms) and draws just four watts of power. The instrument is one of two full instruments on board Rosetta that are funded by NASA. The agency also provided portions of two other instrument suites.

    Other U.S. contributions aboard the spacecraft are the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), the Ion and Electron Sensor (IES), part of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium Suite, and the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer (DFMS) electronics package for the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion Neutral Analysis (ROSINA). They are part of a suite of 11 total science instruments aboard Rosetta.

    MIRO is designed to provide data on how gas and dust leave the surface of the nucleus to form the coma and tail that gives comets their intrinsic beauty. IES is part of a suite of five instruments to analyze the plasma environment of the comet, particularly the coma.

    To obtain the orbital velocity necessary to reach its comet target, the Rosetta spacecraft took advantage of four gravity assists (three from Earth, one from Mars) and an almost three-year period of deep space hibernation, waking up in January 2014 in time to prepare for its rendezvous with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

    Rosetta also carries a lander, Philae, which will drop to the comet’s surface in November 2014.

    philae
    Philae

    The comet observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in providing Earth with water, and perhaps even life.

    Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center in Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen; French National Space Agency in Paris; and the Italian Space Agency in Rome.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the U.S. contribution to the Rosetta mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL also built the MIRO instrument and hosts its principal investigator, Samuel Gulkis. The Southwest Research Institute, located in San Antonio and Boulder, developed Rosetta’s IES and Alice instruments and hosts their principal investigators, James Burch (IES) and Alan Stern (Alice).

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl

    ScienceSprings relies on technology from

    MAINGEAR computers

    Lenovo
    Lenovo

    Dell
    Dell

     
  • richardmitnick 11:08 am on August 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESA Rosetta   

    From SPACE.com: “European Spacecraft to Attempt Historic Comet Rendezvous This Week” 

    space-dot-com logo

    SPACE.com

    August 02, 2014
    Mike Wall

    After a 10-year, 4-billion-mile journey through deep space, a European probe will finally arrive at its comet destination this week.

    The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday (Aug. 6). If all goes according to plan, Rosetta will on that day become the first probe ever to orbit a comet — and, in November, the first to drop a lander onto the surface of one of these icy wanderers.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    “For the first time, we will rendezvous with a comet, for the first time we will escort a comet as it passes through its closet approach to the sun and — the cherry on the top — for the first time, we will deploy a lander,” Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor told Space.com via email. “The rendezvous is therefore a key milestone in the mission.”

    A long wait

    The 1.3-billion-euro ($1.75 billion at current exchange rates) Rosetta mission blasted off in March 2004, kicking off a long and circuitous journey through the solar system. The probe has swung around the sun five times and zoomed past Earth on three separate speed-boosting flybys, European Space Agency (ESA) officials said.

    The probe was asleep during a decent chunk of its decade-long trip; mission team members woke Rosetta up in January to prepare for the upcoming rendezvous, ending a record-setting 957 days of hibernation.

    Rosetta is homing in on the 2.5-mile-wide (4 kilometers) Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which takes about 6.5 years to complete one lap around the sun. The comet’s elliptical orbit takes it beyond Jupiter at its farthest point from the sun and between Mars and Earth at its closest point.

    The rendezvous operation actually consists of 10 different maneuvers, which began in early May and will conclude with a final engine burn on Wednesday. These moves will end up slowing Rosetta’s speed relative to 67P from 1,790 mph (2,880 km/h) at the end of the probe’s hibernation to 2 mph (3 km/h) — walking speed — at the time of orbital insertion, Taylor said.

    “It is challenging; it’s never been done before,” Taylor said. “Other [comet] missions have been flybys at high speed and about 100 kilometers or more distance.”

    Learning about comets

    Rosetta will provide some more deep-space drama in November, when the mother ship drops a lander called Philae onto the surface of 67P. Philae will drill into the comet to take samples and capture images from the surface of the body, ESA officials said.

    ESA Rosetta Philae
    ESA/Rosetta Philae

    The Rosetta mothership and Philae will tag along with 67P as it approaches and then swings around the sun, noting how the comet changes during the trip. The duo’s observations should reveal a great deal about comet composition, which in turn should help researchers better understand solar system evolution, mission officials have said. (Comets are primitive and relatively pristine building blocks left over from the solar system’s formation.)

    Taylor and other mission team members are very much looking forward to this “escort phase,” which is slated to run from Wednesday through the end of the nominal mission in December 2015.

    “All the time we are looking, and sniffing the comet, and with the lander (over a shorter time period) scratching and sniffing,” Taylor said. “All this will provide us with an unprecedented view of a comet, its nucleus and coma and how this all works!”

    See the full article, with more photos, here.

    ScienceSprings relies on technology from

    MAINGEAR computers

    Lenovo
    Lenovo

    Dell
    Dell

     
  • richardmitnick 7:45 am on June 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Rosetta,   

    From NASA/JPL at Caltech: “Titan’s Building Blocks Might Pre-date Saturn” 

    JPL

    June 23, 2014
    Preston Dyches/Whitney Clavin
    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-7013/818-354-4673
    preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov/whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    A combined NASA and European Space Agency (ESA)-funded study has found firm evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan originated in conditions similar to the cold birthplace of the most ancient comets from the Oort cloud. The finding rules out the possibility that Titan’s building blocks formed within the warm disk of material thought to have surrounded the infant planet Saturn during its formation.

    titan
    New research on the nitrogen in Titan’s atmosphere indicates that the moon’s raw materials might have been locked up in ices that condensed before Saturn began its formation. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

    oort
    An artist’s rendering of the Oort cloud and the Kuiper belt (inset). Sizes of individual objects have been exaggerated for visibility.

    The main implication of this new research is that Titan’s building blocks formed early in the solar system’s history, in the cold disk of gas and dust that formed the sun. This was also the birthplace of many comets, which retain a primitive, or largely unchanged, composition today.

    The research, led by Kathleen Mandt of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, and including an international team of researchers, was published this week in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Nitrogen is the main ingredient in the atmosphere of Earth, as well as on Titan. The planet-sized moon of Saturn is frequently compared to an early version of Earth, locked in a deep freeze.

    The paper suggests that information about Titan’s original building blocks is still present in the icy moon’s atmosphere, allowing researchers to test different ideas about how the moon might have formed. Mandt and colleagues demonstrate that a particular chemical hint as to the origin of Titan’s nitrogen should be essentially the same today as when this moon formed, up to 4.6 billion years ago. That hint is the ratio of one isotope, or form, of nitrogen, called nitrogen-14, to another isotope, called nitrogen-15.

    The team finds that our solar system is not old enough for this nitrogen isotope ratio to have changed significantly. This is contrary to what scientists commonly have assumed.

    “When we looked closely at how this ratio could evolve with time, we found that it was impossible for it to change significantly. Titan’s atmosphere contains so much nitrogen that no process can significantly modify this tracer even given more than four billion years of solar system history,” Mandt said.

    The small amount of change in this isotope ratio over long time periods makes it possible for researchers to compare Titan’s original building blocks to other solar system objects in search of connections between them.

    As planetary scientists investigate the mystery of how the solar system formed, isotope ratios are one of the most valuable types of clues they are able to collect. In planetary atmospheres and surface materials, the specific amount of one form of an element, like nitrogen, relative to another form of that same element can be a powerful diagnostic tool because it is closely tied to the conditions under which materials form.

    The study also has implications for Earth. It supports the emerging view that ammonia ice from comets is not likely to be the primary source of Earth’s nitrogen. In the past, researchers assumed a connection between comets, Titan and Earth, and supposed the nitrogen isotope ratio in Titan’s original atmosphere was the same as that ratio is on Earth today. Measurements of the nitrogen isotope ratio at Titan by several instruments of the NASA and ESA Cassini-Huygens mission showed that this is not the case — meaning this ratio is different on Titan and Earth — while measurements of the ratio in comets have borne out their connection to Titan. This means the sources of Earth’s and Titan’s nitrogen must have been different.

    Other researchers previously had shown that Earth’s nitrogen isotope ratio likely has not changed significantly since our planet formed.

    “Some have suggested that meteorites brought nitrogen to Earth, or that nitrogen was captured directly from the disk of gas that formed the sun. This is an interesting puzzle for future investigations,” Mandt said.

    Mandt and colleagues are eager to see whether their findings are supported by data from ESA’s Rosetta mission, when it studies comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko beginning later this year. If their analysis is correct, the comet should have a lower ratio of two isotopes — in this case of hydrogen in methane ice — than the ratio on Titan. In essence, they believe this chemical ratio on Titan is more similar to Oort cloud comets than comets born in the Kuiper Belt, which begins near the orbit of Neptune (67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a Kuiper Belt comet).

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    “This exciting result is a key example of Cassini science informing our knowledge of the history of solar system and how the Earth formed,” said Scott Edgington, Cassini deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

    NASA Cassini Spacecraft
    NASA/Cassini

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. JPL manages the U.S. contribution of the Rosetta mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 8:50 am on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Rosetta   

    From ESA: “Rosetta’s comet: expect the unexpected” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    19 June 2014
    No Writer Credit

    An image snapped earlier this month by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft shows its target comet has quietened, demonstrating the unpredictable nature of these enigmatic objects.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    comet

    The picture was captured on 4 June by Rosetta’s scientific camera, and is the most recent full-resolution image from the narrow-angle sensor. It has been used to help fine-tune Rosetta’s navigation towards comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which was 430 000 km away at the time.

    Strikingly, there is no longer any sign of the extended dust cloud that was seen developing around nucleus at the end of April and into May, as shown in our last image release. Indeed, monitoring of the comet has shown a significant drop in its brightness since then.

    “The comet is now almost within our reach – and teaching us to expect the unexpected,” says the camera’s Principal Investigator Holger Sierks from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany.

    “After its onset of activity at the end April, our images are currently showing a comet back at rest.”

    comet2
    Comet on 30 April

    While it is not uncommon for comets to display varying levels of activity, it is the first time that scientists have witnessed changes in dust production from such a close distance.

    A comet’s ‘coma’ develops as it moves along its orbit progressively closer to the Sun, the increasing warmth causing surface ices to sublimate and gas to escape from its rock–ice nucleus.

    As the gas flows away from the nucleus, it also carries a cloud of tiny dust particles out into space, which slowly expands to create the coma.

    The warming continues and activity rises as the comet moves ever closer to the Sun. Eventually, pressure from the solar wind causes some of the material to stream out into a long tail.

    As comets are non-spherical and lumpy, this process is often unpredictable, with activity waxing and waning as they warm. The observations made over the six weeks from the end of April to early June show just how quickly the conditions at a comet can change.

    Since Rosetta’s instruments were reactivated earlier this year after a long hibernation, the scientific and navigation cameras have been regularly acquiring images to help define Rosetta’s trajectory to the comet.

    Using this information, the spacecraft has been making a series of manoeuvres that will slowly bring it in line with the comet before their rendezvous in the first week of August.

    Four manoeuvres have been completed already – the most recent was yesterday – with six more to go. The last in the sequence is planned for 6 August, when Rosetta will be 100 km from the comet and will embark on a series of complex manoeuvres to bring it closer still.

    But today, even six weeks and about 165 000 km out, Rosetta’s science instruments have already started collecting data on the comet’s environment and its evolution.

    For example, Rosetta is capable of measuring the coma and determining the rates at which water and gases such as carbon dioxide are being produced, and how those rates change with time. These measurements will provide insight into the chemical makeup of the comet’s surface and interior.

    The plasma environment of the comet can also be assessed as the coma develops and interacts with particles in the solar wind.

    Later, as it gets even closer, Rosetta will start collecting gas and dust particles from the coma, and analysing them in its miniaturised onboard laboratories.

    “It’s great to have started regularly receiving science data, especially after a long 10 year journey towards our destination,” says Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist. “The variable activity of the comet shows it definitely has personality, which makes us all the more eager to get there to learn just how it ticks.”

    Today, the roughly 4 km-wide comet scales to about one pixel in the narrow-angle camera – meaning no details of the nucleus can be discerned. But within a few weeks, Rosetta will be close enough to see far more: by early July, it should span five pixels and by the start of August, 500 pixels.

    With that in mind, we will now begin publishing images on a more regular basis. The next image is foreseen on or around 3 July, and then on a weekly basis until rendezvous on 6 August. The images will be published in the Rosetta image gallery and via the Rosetta mission blog.

    One thing seems certain: as Rosetta comes ever closer to its destination, more exciting surprises surely await us.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 5:05 am on June 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Rosetta,   

    From NASA/JPL at Caltech: “NASA Instruments on Rosetta Start Comet Science” 

    JPL

    June 10, 2014
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Markus Bauer
    European Space Agency, Noordwijk, Netherlands
    011-31-71-565-6799
    markus.bauer@esa.int

    Three NASA science instruments aboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus, are beginning observations and sending science data back to Earth.

    rosetta

    Launched in March 2004, Rosetta was reactivated in January 2014 after a record 957 days in hibernation. Composed of an orbiter and lander, Rosetta’s objective is to arrive at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August to study the celestial object up close in unprecedented detail and prepare for landing a probe on the comet’s nucleus in November.

    Rosetta’s lander will obtain the first images taken from a comet’s surface and will provide the first analysis of a comet’s composition by drilling into the surface. Rosetta also 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. Observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in seeding Earth with water, and perhaps even life.

    “We are happy to be seeing some real zeroes and ones coming down from our instruments, and cannot wait to figure out what they are telling us,” said Claudia Alexander, Rosetta’s U.S. project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Never before has a spacecraft pulled up and parked next to a comet. That is what Rosetta will do, and we are delighted to play a part in such a historic mission of exploration.”

    Rosetta currently is approaching the main asteroid belt located between Jupiter and Mars. The spacecraft is still about 300,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) from the comet, but in August the instruments will begin to map its surface.

    The three U.S. instruments aboard the spacecraft are the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), an ultraviolet spectrometer called Alice, and the Ion and Electron Sensor (IES). They are part of a suite of 11 science instruments aboard the Rosetta orbiter.

    miro

    alice
    ALICE

    ies
    IES

    MIRO is designed to provide data on how gas and dust leave the surface of the nucleus to form the coma and tail that gives comets their intrinsic beauty. Studying the surface temperature and evolution of the coma and tail provides information on how the comet evolves as it approaches and leaves the vicinity of the sun.

    Alice will analyze gases in the comet’s coma, which is the bright envelope of gas around the nucleus of the comet developed as a comet approaches the sun. Alice also will measure the rate at which the comet produces water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. These measurements will provide valuable information about the surface composition of the nucleus.

    The instrument also will measure the amount of argon present, an important clue about the temperature of the solar system at the time the comet’s nucleus originally formed more than 4.6 billion years ago.

    IES is part of a suite of five instruments to analyze the plasma environment of the comet, particularly the coma. The instrument will measure the charged particles in the sun’s outer atmosphere, or solar wind, as they interact with the gas flowing out from the comet while Rosetta is drawing nearer to the comet’s nucleus.

    NASA also provided part of the electronics package for the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer, which is part of the Swiss-built Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) instrument. ROSINA will be the first instrument in space with sufficient resolution to be able to distinguish between molecular nitrogen and carbon monoxide, two molecules with approximately the same mass. Clear identification of nitrogen will help scientists understand conditions at the time the solar system was formed.

    U.S. scientists are partnering on several non-U.S. instruments and are involved in seven of the mission’s 21 instrument collaborations. NASA’s Deep Space Network is supporting ESA’s Ground Station Network for spacecraft tracking and navigation.

    Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center, Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottigen; French National Space Agency, Paris; and the Italian Space Agency, Rome. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the U.S. contribution of the Rosetta mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL also built the MIRO and hosts its principal investigator, Samuel Gulkis. The Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio and Boulder), developed the Rosetta orbiter’s IES and Alice instruments, and hosts their principal investigators, James Burch (IES) and Alan Stern (Alice).

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 3:53 pm on June 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA Rosetta   

    From ESA: “ESA’s ‘sleeping beauty’ wakes up from deep space hibernation” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    20 January 2014 (Where has this been?)

    No Writer Credit

    It was a fairy-tale ending to a tense chapter in the story of the Rosetta space mission this evening as ESA heard from its distant spacecraft for the first time in 31 months.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA/Rosetta

    Rosetta is chasing down Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will become the first space mission to rendezvous with a comet, the first to attempt a landing on a comet’s surface, and the first to follow a comet as it swings around the Sun.

    Since its launch in 2004, Rosetta has made three flybys of Earth and one of Mars to help it on course to its rendezvous with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, encountering asteroids Steins and Lutetia along the way.

    Operating on solar energy alone, Rosetta was placed into a deep space slumber in June 2011 as it cruised out to a distance of nearly 800 million km from the warmth of the Sun, beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

    Now, as Rosetta’s orbit has brought it back to within ‘only’ 673 million km from the Sun, there is enough solar energy to power the spacecraft fully again.

    Rosetta calls home

    Thus today, still about 9 million km from the comet, Rosetta’s pre-programmed internal ‘alarm clock’ woke up the spacecraft. After warming up its key navigation instruments, coming out of a stabilising spin, and aiming its main radio antenna at Earth, Rosetta sent a signal to let mission operators know it had survived the most distant part of its journey.

    The signal was received by both NASA’s Goldstone and Canberra ground stations at 18:18 GMT/ 19:18 CET, during the first window of opportunity the spacecraft had to communicate with Earth. It was immediately confirmed in ESA’s space operations centre in Darmstadt and the successful wake-up announced via the @ESA_Rosetta twitter account, which tweeted: “Hello, World!”

    goldstone
    NASA/Goldstone 70m antenna

    “We have our comet-chaser back,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration. “With Rosetta, we will take comet exploration to a new level. This incredible mission continues our history of ‘firsts’ at comets, building on the technological and scientific achievements of our first deep space mission Giotto, which returned the first close-up images of a comet nucleus as it flew past Halley in 1986.”

    How Rosetta wakes up from deep space hibernation

    “This was one alarm clock not to hit snooze on, and after a tense day we are absolutely delighted to have our spacecraft awake and back online,” adds Fred Jansen, ESA’s Rosetta mission manager.

    Comets are considered the primitive building blocks of the Solar System and likely helped to ‘seed’ Earth with water, perhaps even the ingredients for life. But many fundamental questions about these enigmatic objects remain, and through its comprehensive, in situ study of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta aims to unlock the secrets contained within.

    “All other comet missions have been flybys, capturing fleeting moments in the life of these icy treasure chests,” says Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist. “With Rosetta, we will track the evolution of a comet on a daily basis and for over a year, giving us a unique insight into a comet’s behaviour and ultimately helping us to decipher their role in the formation of the Solar System.”

    But first, essential health checks on the spacecraft must be completed. Then the eleven instruments on the orbiter and ten on the lander will be turned on and prepared for studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

    “We have a busy few months ahead preparing the spacecraft and its instruments for the operational challenges demanded by a lengthy, close-up study of a comet that, until we get there, we know very little about,” says Andrea Accomazzo, ESA’s Rosetta operations manager.

    two
    Rosetta and Philae at comet

    Rosetta’s first images of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko are expected in May, when the spacecraft is still 2 million km from its target. Towards the end of May, the spacecraft will execute a major manoeuvre to line up for its critical rendezvous with the comet in August.

    After rendezvous, Rosetta will start with two months of extensive mapping of the comet’s surface, and will also make important measurements of the comet’s gravity, mass and shape, and assess its gaseous, dust-laden atmosphere, or coma. The orbiter will also probe the plasma environment and analyse how it interacts with the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the solar wind.

    Using these data, scientists will choose a landing site for the mission’s 100 kg Philae probe. The landing is currently scheduled for 11 November and will be the first time that a landing on a comet has ever been attempted.

    In fact, given the almost negligible gravity of the comet’s 4 km-wide nucleus, Philae will have to use ice screws and harpoons to stop it from rebounding back into space after touchdown.

    Among its wide range of scientific measurements, Philae will send back a panorama of its surroundings, as well as very high-resolution pictures of the surface. It will also perform an on-the-spot analysis of the composition of the ices and organic material, including drilling down to 23 cm below the surface and feeding samples to Philae’s on-board laboratory for analysis.

    The focus of the mission will then move to the ‘escort’ phase, during which Rosetta will stay alongside the comet as it moves closer to the Sun, monitoring the ever-changing conditions on the surface as the comet warms up and its ices sublimate.

    The comet will reach its closest distance to the Sun on 13 August 2015 at about 185 million km, roughly between the orbits of Earth and Mars. Rosetta will follow the comet throughout the remainder of 2015, as it heads away from the Sun and activity begins to subside.

    “We will face many challenges this year as we explore the unknown territory of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises, but today we are just extremely happy to be back on speaking terms with our spacecraft,” adds Matt Taylor.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 6:18 pm on January 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Rosetta,   

    From NASA/JPL at Caltech: “Rosetta: To Chase a Comet” 

    January 17, 2014
    DC Agle/Jia-Rui Cook 818-393-9011/818-354-0850
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov / jccook@jpl.nasa.gov
    Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
    Headquarters, Washington
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Markus Bauer 31-71-565-6799
    European Space Agency, Noordwijk, The Netherland
    markus.bauer@esa.int

    Comets are among the most beautiful and least understood nomads of the night sky. To date, half a dozen of these most heavenly of heavenly bodies have been visited by spacecraft in an attempt to unlock their secrets. All these missions have had one thing in common: the high-speed flyby. Like two ships passing in the night (or one ship and one icy dirtball), they screamed past each other at hyper velocity — providing valuable insight, but fleeting glimpses, into the life of a comet. That is, until Rosetta.

    NASA is participating in the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, whose goal is to observe one such space-bound icy dirt ball from up close — for months on end. The spacecraft, festooned with 25 instruments between its lander and orbiter (including three from NASA) will monitor comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it makes its nosedive into, and then climb out of, the inner solar system. Over 16 months, during which old 67P is expected to transform from a small, frozen world into a roiling mass of ice and dust, complete with surface eruptions, mini-earthquakes, basketball-sized, fluffy ice particles and spewing jets of carbon dioxide and cyanide.

    “We are going to be in the cometary catbird seat on this one,” said Claudia Alexander, project scientist for U.S. Rosetta from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “To have an extended presence in the neighborhood of a comet as it goes through so many changes should change our perspective on what it is to be a comet.

    rosetta
    Rosetta

    “Since work began on Rosetta back in 1993, scientists and engineers from all over Europe and the United States have been combining their talents to build an orbiter and a lander for this unique expedition. NASA’s contribution includes three of the orbiter’s instruments (an ultraviolet spectrometer called Alice; the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter; and the Ion and Electron Sensor. NASA is also providing part of the electronics package for an instrument called the Double Focusing Mass Spectrometer, which is part of the Swiss-built Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis instrument. NASA is also providing U.S. science investigators for selected non-U.S. instruments and is involved to a greater or lesser degree in seven of the mission’s 25 instruments. NASA’s Deep Space Network provides support for ESA’s Ground Station Network for spacecraft tracking and navigation.

    “All the instruments aboard Rosetta and the Philae lander are designed to work synergistically,” said Sam Gulkis of JPL, the principal investigator for the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter. “They will all work together to create the most complete picture of a comet to date, telling us how the comet works, what it is made of, and what it can tell us about the origins of the solar system.

    See the full article here.

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
  • richardmitnick 6:01 am on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESA Rosetta   

    From ESA: “The most important alarm clock in the Solar System” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    16 January 2014

    For further information, please contact:

    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    Fred Jansen
    ESA Rosetta mission manager
    Email: fjansen@rssd.esa.int

    Matt Taylor
    ESA Rosetta project scientist
    Email: matthew.taylor@esa.int

    At 10:00 GMT on Monday, the most important alarm clock in the Solar System will wake up ESA’s sleeping Rosetta spacecraft.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    Rosetta

    Rosetta is chasing comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and, since its launch in 2004, has made three flybys of Earth and one of Mars to build up enough speed and get on a trajectory towards the comet. It has also encountered asteroids Steins and Lutetia along the way.

    Operating on solar energy alone, the spacecraft was placed into a deep space slumber in mid-2011 as it cruised far from the Sun and out towards the orbit of Jupiter. To prepare for its long sleep, Rosetta was oriented so that its solar arrays faced the Sun and put into a once per minute spin for stability.

    The only devices left running were its computer and several heaters.

    Thirty-one months later, Rosetta’s orbit has brought it back to within only 673 million kilometres of the Sun, and there is finally enough solar energy to power the spacecraft fully again. It is time to wake up.

    Rosetta’s computer is programmed to carry out a sequence of events to re-establish contact with Earth on 20 January, starting with an ‘alarm clock’ at 10:00 GMT.

    Immediately after, the spacecraft’s startrackers will begin to warm up, taking around six hours.

    Then its thrusters will fire to stop the slow rotation. A slight adjustment will be made to Rosetta’s orientation to ensure that the solar arrays are still facing directly towards the Sun, before the startrackers are switched on to determine the spacecraft’s attitude.

    Once that has been established, Rosetta will turn directly towards Earth, switch on its transmitter and point its high-gain antenna to send its signal to announce that it is awake.

    Because of Rosetta’s vast distance – just over 807 million kilometres from Earth – it will take 45 minutes for the signal to reach the ground stations. The first opportunity for receiving a signal on Earth is expected between 17:30 GMT and 18:30 GMT.

    Deep space tracking dishes will be listening out for the signal, starting with NASA’s ‘big ears’ – the 70 m-diameter station at Goldstone, California, followed by, as the Earth rotates, the Canberra station in eastern Australia. ESA’s New Norcia 35 m antenna, in Western Australia, would be next in line to await the signal’s arrival.

    Whenever the signal is received, it will be relayed immediately to ESOC, ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

    This exciting moment will be announced to the world straightaway via the @ESA_Rosetta twitter account.

    Once mission controllers have verified Rosetta’s health, each of its scientific instruments will be switched back on and checked out, an effort that will take several months as the spacecraft continues to eat up the remaining 9 million kilometres separating it from the comet.

    In May, Rosetta will make a major manoeuvre to line up for arriving at its target comet in August. If all goes well, it will become the first space mission to rendezvous with a comet, the first to attempt a landing, and the first to follow a comet as it swings around the Sun.

    Comets are considered to be the primitive building blocks of the Solar System and likely helped to ‘seed’ Earth with water, and perhaps even the ingredients for life. But many fundamental questions about these enigmatic objects remain, and through its comprehensive, close-up study of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, Rosetta aims to unlock the secrets within.

    A press event will be held at ESOC on 20 January to celebrate the wake up. An overview of the day-long event can be found here. The briefings will be livestreamed at http://www.esa.int/rosetta and http://www.livestream.com/eurospaceagency.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 322 other followers

%d bloggers like this: