Rosetta Status Report - May 2007
23 May 2007 15:53Mission Status
The Rosetta spacecraft completed its Mars gravity assist successfully on 25 February (see also status report no. 76). The closest point was reached at 1:57:59 UTC at just under 250 km from the surface of Mars. The flyby operations had been planned by the Rosetta Mission Operations Centre and the Rosetta Science Operations Centre in close collaboration and all activities were executed and completed according to plan without major problems.
The Mars flyby was a major mission milestone as it had to place the spacecraft on the proper trajectory for the second Earth flyby in November this year. In contrast to most flybys where one tries to gain orbital energy, this one was implemented to actually slow down the S/C to target it at Earth. With an additional manoeuvre (TCM#3) successfully performed on 26 April, Rosetta is correctly phased for the Earth swing-by (see also status report no. 80).
The spacecraft and its subsystems perform nominally. After completion of the joint Jupiter observation campaign - UV spectrometry with Rosetta's Alice instrument and NASA's New Horizon spacecraft, that had its closest approach to Jupiter on 28 February, on 8 May preparations will start for the next Near Sun Hibernation Phase to be entered on 4 June.
The Mars fly-by science operations were executed as planned with only minor disturbances. The orbiter payload had to be switched off before reaching closest approach as the spacecraft was entering a short eclipse for which it is not designed (the original mission to comet Wirtanen did not have any eclipses), however, the Lander could run on its own batteries and operate its payload autonomously during the closest approach phase.
The Navigation Camera, OSIRIS and CIVA imaged the planet. In addition VIRTIS, ALICE, SREM, RPC and ROMAP acquired excellent science data, which were presented to the Rosetta SWT end of March. Publications are under preparation. The teams supported the Agency's PR activities around the flyby excellently - media interest was overwhelming and especially the OSIRIS and CIVA images had an excellent media impact worldwide.