Third Earth swingby - November 2009
On 13 November 2009 Rosetta performs its third Earth swingby. It is the last in a series of four gravity assists required to put the spacecraft on an intercept course with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta's final destination.
This animated sequence, generated using the NASA Solar System simulator, shows Rosetta's orbit (in green) from 1 April 2009 through 1 April 2010, in a top view of the inner Solar System. The Earth swingby on 13 November is shown from Rosetta's perspective in the middle of the sequence, for a period of about 10 hours around closest approach.
Note: during and around closest approach Rosetta will perform several slews. These changes in pointing have not been integrated in this sequence, which shows a continuous Earth pointing.
This swingby was preceded by three other gravity assists in March 2005 (Earth), February 2007 (Mars) and November 2007 (Earth), which have helped to shape and to boost the orbit of Rosetta. After this final Earth swingby, the four gravity assists will together have provided the spacecraft with the orbital energy required to escape the inner Solar System and travel out to nearly the orbit of Jupiter for its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.