The Rosetta spacecraft was launched on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana. Rosetta mission control is based at the Rosetta Mission Operations Centre (RMOC) at ESOC, Germany. Throughout all mission phases, the RMOC is the primary interface with the spacecraft through the ground stations. It is responsible for monitoring and control of the complete mission.
ESOC Ground Segment
RMOC work closely with the ESA tracking network (ESTRACK), with the deep space antenna located in New Norcia near Perth, Western Australia, as the primary ground station. During critical mission phases (launch, planet fly-bys, approach and arrival at the comet, lander delivery and relay) RMOC is supported for tracking, telemetry and command by the ESA ground station located in Kourou and the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN).
The Rosetta ground segment is designed to meet both the scientific objectives and the challenges imposed by a deep space mission. These challenges include long turnaround times for signals (up to 100 minutes), low bit rates (8 bps), low power (spacecraft in hibernation for 2.5 years), and the requirement for particular configurations of planets – to allow for gravity assist manoeuvres at Mars and at Earth. In addition, ESOC will cope with the long mission duration and the related problem of maintaining expertise and experience, while minimizing the overall cost.