The international Rosetta mission has comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as its target. For the first time in space history a spacecraft will enter orbit around a comet. The Rosetta timetable foresees arrival at the comet in August 2014, Lander release in November 2014, and close comet observations until end 2015.
ESOC Ground Segment
The Rosetta spacecraft was launched 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana. The control of the Rosetta mission takes place from a single control centre, Rosetta Mission Operations Centre (RMOC) at ESOC, in conjunction with the ESA deep space antenna located in New Norcia near Perth, Western Australia. The operation's aim is to acquire scientific data during the planet and asteroid fly-bys, the comet acquisition/approach, the near comet phase, the comet orbit phase, and in particular during the Lander delivery and relay.
Throughout all mission phases, the RMOC is the primary interface with the spacecraft through the ground stations.
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 constellations of planets (Rosetta gets gravity assists once by Mars and three times by Earth). In addition ESOC will cope with the long mission duration and the related problem in keeping expertise and experience, while minimizing the overall cost.
For the complete mission duration (from launch to the end of mission, when ground contact to the spacecraft/payload is terminated), ESOC will provide facilities and services to the scientific community for planning and execution of scientific data acquisition. This will include generating and providing of complete raw-data sets and necessary auxiliary data to the Principal Investigators (PIs), and the Rosetta Lander Ground Segment.
The Rosetta Science Operations Centre (RSOC) supports scientific mission planning and experiment command request preparation for consolidated onward submittal to the RMOC. RSOC is responsible for making pre-processed scientific data and the scientific data archive available to the scientific community. A Rosetta Lander Ground Segment (RLGS) will support operations of the Lander, in particular before and after completion of the landing and relay phase.