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Mission Operations

The European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt provides the Operations Control Centre (OCC) for Rosetta. It controls the spacecraft via ESA's New Norcia 35 m ground station near Perth, with additional support during the spacecraft activation, early commissioning and near-Earth phases provided by the ESA 15 m ground station in Kourou.

Ground Segment and Mission Operations

The Rosetta ground segment provides capabilities for monitoring and control of the Rosetta spacecraft and payload during all mission phases, as well as for the reception, archiving and distribution of payload instrument data. The ground segment is composed of:

  • Ground Station and Communications Network performing telemetry, telecommand and tracking operations within the S/X-band frequencies. The ground station network used throughout all mission phases is shown below. Rosetta is controlled via the ESA Perth 35 m station. During critical mission phases (such as launch and planet swing-bys) it will be supported for tracking, telemetry and command by other ESA ground stations at Kourou and Cebreros, and by the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) 34 m/70 m stations at Madrid, Spain, and Goldstone, USA.
  • Rosetta Mission Operations Centre (RMOC) located at ESOC, Darmstadt (Germany), including:
    The Rosetta Mission Control System, to support with both hardware and software, the data processing tasks essential for controlling the mission, as well as spacecraft performance evaluation and software validation
    The Rosetta Data Disposition System, supporting the acquisition and interim storage of raw scientific data (to be accessible together with raw housekeeping and auxiliary data from PIs at remote locations), and distributing the raw data
    The Rosetta Mission Planning System, supporting command request handling and the planning and scheduling of spacecraft/payload operations
    The Flight Dynamics System, supporting all activities related to attitude and orbit determination and prediction, preparation of slew and orbit manoeuvres, spacecraft dynamics evaluation and navigation in general
    The Spacecraft Simulator, to support procedure validation, operator training, and the simulation campaign before each major phase of the mission
  • Rosetta Science Ground Segment (RSGS), to support scientific mission planning. It merges instrument command requests to arrive at a consolidated schedule to submit to RMOC. RSGS also makes pre-processed scientific data and the scientific data archive available to the scientific community
  • General Purpose Communication Network, providing the support services for access to test data obtained during the spacecraft integration and test programme, submittal of command requests to the ESOC/RMOC, retrieval of quick look mission products kept at ESOC

For some periods of the Rosetta mission, the communication turn-around time between ground and the spacecraft will be up to 100 minutes. For this reason, the spacecraft and payload have a degree of autonomy and are able to conduct corrective actions at short notice in case of on-board anomalies. There have been some planned communication black-out periods during the mission, with the most notable being when Rosetta was put into a resource saving mode, referred to as Deep Space Hibernation, for the period from 8 June 2011 to 20 January 2014.

Operation of the scientific instruments on-board of the Rosetta spacecraft is defined by the Investigator teams. Primary responsibility for developing the payload operations strategy for the Rosetta Scientific Mission lies with the Rosetta Science Working Team. The Rosetta Science Ground Segment (RSGS) supports the Rosetta Project Scientist in scientific operations.

Last Update: 09 July 2015

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