Rosetta bound for outer Solar System after final Earth swingby
This morning, mission controllers confirmed that ESA’s comet chaser Rosetta had swung by Earth at 8:45 CET as planned, skimming past our planet to pick up a gravitational boost for an epic journey to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
Rosetta passed over the ocean, just South of the Indonesian island of Java, at exactly 08:45:40 CET, at a speed of 13.34 km/s with respect to Earth an an altitude of 2481 km. The swingby was pre-planned and fully automated, and the spacecraft was in direct communication with Earth at the time, via the ESa New Norcia Station.
Europe’s comet chaser has now flown a little over 4500 million km of its 7100 million km journey to its destination comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This was Rosetta’s fourth planetary swingby and the third and final swingby of Earth.
Some of Rosetta’s instruments have been on since early November, performing imaging, magnetospheric, and atmospheric observations, as well as looking for water on the Moon. The first round of images and data recorded just before and during the swingby will be downloaded later today.