On 6 August 2014, the Rosetta mission achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first mission to rendezvous with a comet. During the coming months, Rosetta will orbit the comet, deploy the Philae lander (in November 2014), and accompany the comet through perihelion (August 2015) until the nominal end of the mission. During its 10 year journey towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the spacecraft has passed by two asteroids: 2867 Steins (in 2008) and 21 Lutetia (in 2010). The spacecraft entered deep-space hibernation mode in June 2011, and 'woke up' on 20 January 2014.
Rosetta's main objective is to rendezvous with, and enter orbit around, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and to perform observations of the comet's nucleus and coma. During the period that Rosetta orbits the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will reach the closest point to the Sun in its orbit, allowing for the consequent increase in activity to be measured. A lander, named Philae, will be deployed and it will attempt to make the first ever controlled landing on a comet.
Rosetta takes its name from the Rosetta Stone, an incomplete stela of black basalt incised with the same priestly decree in three scripts concerning Ptolemy V. Although three scripts are shown (Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Egyptian Demotic and Greek) just two languages are represented. The great significance of the Stone is that it provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The Rosetta design is based on a box-type central structure, 2.8 m x 2.1 m x 2.0 m, on which all subsystems and payload equipment are mounted. Two solar panels, with a combined area of 64 m2, stretch out to 14 m in length. The total span from tip to tip is 32 m. The Philae lander is attached to the spacecraft side opposite to the side that carries the 2.2m diameter steerable high-gain antenna.
The Rosetta Orbiter:
The Rosetta Lander:
APXS, COSAC, MODULUS (Ptolemy), SD2, CIVA, ROLIS, SESAME, MUPUS, ROMAP, CONSERT.