Shop Windows to the Universe

Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather by Mike Smith tells the story of our storm warning system. See our online store book collection.

Rosetta mission prepares for launch
News story originally written on January 15, 2004

Scientists and engineers involved with the Rosetta space mission are preparing for the spacecraft's launch, which is scheduled for February 2004. Rosetta was originally intended to blast off about one year ago, in January 2003. Last year's launch was delayed, however, over concerns about the safety of the spacecraft's Ariane 5 launch vehicle. While engineers worked out the problems with the Ariane rocket, scientists had to choose a new target for the Rosetta mission which will rendezvous with and land a probe on the surface of a comet. The original target, Comet Wirtanen, has moved out of range of the mission.

Rosetta is now slated to begin pursuit of its new target, Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with a liftoff on February 26, 2004. Rosetta's new target is larger than the comet it was formerly designed to study, and thus has stronger gravity. Engineers had to modify the landing gear on the Rosetta lander to withstand more shock since the vehicle will be moving faster when in touches down on the comet's nucleus.

Rosetta will travel a long and roundabout path on the way to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft will go into orbit around the comet in August 2014, and the lander will touch down in November of that year. Along the way it will fly by Earth three times and Mars once, gaining speed via a "gravity assist" during each planetary encounter. Rosetta is also expected to fly past at least one asteroid during its ten-year long journey, though the particular asteroid it will study has not yet been chosen.

Last modified January 14, 2004 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist, mineral and fossil specimens, and educational games!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Rosetta Mission Update

The Rosetta Mission, the first mission to have a lander which will touch down on a comet, was suppose to launch in January 2003. Unfortunately, launch has been delayed and no new launch date has been set....more

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was discovered in 1969 by Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko. The comet orbits the Sun once every 6.57 years. Its orbit brings it closer to the Sun than Mars at the...more

Rosetta Flyby of Asteroid Lutetia

Rosetta is a European space probe that was launched in March 2004. Its primary mission is to rendevous with and land on a comet in November 2014. Along the way it has flown by two asteroids. On July 1...more

A Rover on the Red Planet! Spirit Will Look at the Geology of Mars

NASA’s rover, named Spirit, has successfully landed and will soon be scouting the surface of Mars for interesting geology! Scientists are interested to know whether the depression where Spirit landed...more

Hubble Servicing Mission Canceled

On January 16, 2004, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced the cancellation of the final scheduled servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The review board studying the Shuttle Columbia...more

Cassini approaches Saturn's Moon Phoebe

The Cassini spacecraft, en route to Saturn, will zoom past Saturn's odd moon Phoebe on June 11, 2004. Cassini will pass within 2,000 km (1,243 miles) of the moon's surface and should send back images with...more

Huygens probe on its way to Titan

NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which is in orbit around Saturn, released the Huygens probe and sent it on its way to Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The probe, pushed away from the Cassini "mothership"...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA