Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rosetta comet probe starts years-long space hibernation

Date:
June 9, 2011
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
The final command placing the European Space Agency's Rosetta comet-chaser into deep-space hibernation was sent June 8, 2011. With virtually all systems shut down, the probe will now coast for 31 months until waking up in 2014 for arrival at its comet destination.

Artist's impression of the Rosetta Spacecraft.
Credit: ESA - C. Carreau

The final command placing ESA's Rosetta comet-chaser into deep-space hibernation was sent June 8, 2011. With virtually all systems shut down, the probe will now coast for 31 months until waking up in 2014 for arrival at its comet destination.

Related Articles


The dramatic event marks the end of the hugely successful first phase of Rosetta's ten-year cruise and the start of a long, dark hibernation during which all instruments and almost all control systems will be silent.

The deep sleep is made necessary by the craft's enormous distance from the Sun and the weakness of the sunlight falling on its solar panels, which cannot produce enough electricity to power the probe fully.

Arcing through millions of kilometres of space

Between now and January 2014, Rosetta will arc unattended through millions of kilometres of cold, distant space, heading toward a rendezvous with 67-P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Only the computer and several heaters will remain active. These will be automatically controlled to ensure that the entire satellite doesn't freeze as its orbit takes it from 660 million km from the Sun out to 790 million km and back between now and 2014.

"We sent the command via NASA's 70 m Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia, ensuring the signal was transmitted with enough power to reach Rosetta, which is now 549 million km from Earth," said ESA's Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo.

"We'll monitor via ESA's 35 m station at New Norcia in Australia for a few days to see if any problems occur, but we expect to receive no radio signal until 2014. Rosetta's on her own now."

Wake up call in 2014

On 20 January 2014, a timer will wake the slumbering spacecraft, which will then transmit a signal to Earth to announce that its revival.

Mission controllers will then spend several weeks gradually warming up and reactivating the spacecraft in preparation for its rendezvous with the comet in July 2014.

Mission controllers at ESOC, ESA's Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, have spent most of the past year preparing for hibernation.

A special hibernation mode of the spacecraft was designed by engineers at EADS Astrium, the main industrial prime contractor that build Rosetta, to allow it to survive the large distances from the Sun during its cruise.

All of the scientific instruments were switched off by the end of March. In April and May, with Rosetta orbiting at more than 600 million km from the Sun, tests were conducted with the solar arrays to confirm that sufficient power would be available for the June 8 hibernation.

Final shut-down command sen

At 08:00 UT (10:00 CEST) June 8, 2011, Rosetta automatically started spinning, which will stabilise the probe while the normal attitude control system is off throughout hibernation, and at 12:58 UT (14:58 CEST) the final shut-down command was sent.

"With flybys of asteroids Steins in 2008 and Lutetia in 2010, Rosetta has already delivered excellent scientific results," says Paolo Ferri, Head of ESOC's Solar and Planetary Mission Operations Division.

"Hibernation is a necessary step to reach the final target. We are now looking forward to 2014, when Rosetta becomes the first spacecraft to track the life of a comet as it arcs in toward the Sun."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Rosetta comet probe starts years-long space hibernation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110608122102.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2011, June 9). Rosetta comet probe starts years-long space hibernation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110608122102.htm
European Space Agency. "Rosetta comet probe starts years-long space hibernation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110608122102.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins