ESA's historic Rosetta mission concluded as planned, on 30 September 2016, with a controlled impact onto the comet it had been investigating for more than two years. The mission was launched on 2 March 2004, on a 10-year journey towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. En route, it passed by two asteroids, 2867 Steins (in 2008) and 21 Lutetia (in 2010), before entering deep-space hibernation mode in June 2011. On 20 January 2014, it 'woke up' and prepared for arrival at the comet in August that year. On 12 November, the mission deployed its Philae probe to the comet, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat was achieved. During the next phase of the mission, Rosetta accompanied the comet through perihelion (13 August 2015) until the end of the mission.
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.