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Rosetta Publications

For all publications related to the Rosetta mission, please include the following acknowledgement:

Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its Member States and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI.

For papers using Rosetta mission archive data provided by the PSA ( or PDS ( please acknowledge the Principal Investigator(s) as well as the ESA Planetary Science Archive and NASA PDS Planetary Data System.

To refer to this page you can use the following url:

A list of Rosetta publications is maintained at the ADS library by the Project Scientist: ADS Library.

Research articles and reports from the Science journal special issue, Catching a comet, in which the first results from the Rosetta orbiter instruments are reported are available (free access) here.

Research articles and reports from the Science journal special issue on Philae's first look are available (free access) here.

A special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics on Rosetta mission results pre-perihelion was published in November 2015. It is available here.

A special issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society resulting from The ESLAB 50 Symposium - spacecraft at comets from 1P/Halley to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was compiled in Autumn 2016. It is available here.

A second special issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society resulting from the conference Comets: A new vision after Rosetta and Philae was compiled in Spring/Summer 2017. It is available here.

A second special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics on Rosetta mission full comet phase results was published in September 2019. It is available here.

A list of Rosetta-related theses which have been prepared can be found here.

Publication archive

Publication archive

Press kit for the 12 November 2014 press event marking the landing of Rosetta's lander Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Media services
Mission facts
Selecting a landing site
Landing on a comet
Comets – an introduction
Rosetta's comet
Missions to comets
Appendix A: Provisional programme for press event at ESOC
Appendix B: Selected images and videos
Appendix C: Distances, dates, times for mission
Appendix D: Timeline for separation


pg 48: a minus sign is missing from the temperature quoted. The text should read: "The average surface temperature, reported by the VIRTIS team, is -70 °C (205 K)"
Published: 05 November 2014
The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft flew by asteroid (21) Lutetia on July 10, 2010. Observations through the OSIRIS camera have revealed many geological features. Lineaments are identified on the entire observed surface of the asteroid. Many of these features are concentric around the North Pole Crater Cluster (NPCC). As observed on (433) Eros and (4) Vesta, this analysis of Lutetia assesses whether or not some of the lineaments could be created orthogonally to observed impact craters. The results indicate that the orientation of lineaments on Lutetia's surface could be explained by three impact craters: the Massilia and the NPCC craters observed in the northern hemisphere, and candidate crater Suspicio inferred to be in the southern hemisphere. The latter has not been observed during the Rosetta flyby. Of note, is that the inferred location of the Suspicio impact crater derived from lineaments matches locations where hydrated minerals have been detected from Earth-based observations in the southern hemisphere of Lutetia. Although the presence of these minerals has to be confirmed, this analysis shows that the topography may also have a significant contribution in the modification of the spectral shape and its interpretation. The cross-cutting relationships of craters with lineaments, or between lineaments themselves show that Massilia is the oldest of the three impact feature, the NPCC the youngest, and that the Suspicio impact crater is of intermediate age that is likely occurred closer in time to the Massilia event.
Published: 16 October 2014

Press kit updated in October for Go for landing on the primary landing site.

Media services
Quick reference mission facts
Highlights from the Rosetta mission thus far
Selecting Site J, a landing site for Philae
Landing on a Comet
Comets – an introduction
Rosetta's comet – at a glance
Missions to comets - Rosetta in context
Appendix A: Distances, dates, times for mission milestones

Published: 13 October 2014
Published online: 12 September 2014

Aims. Approach observations with the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) experiment onboard Rosetta are used to determine the rotation period, the direction of the spin axis, and the state of rotation of comet 67P's nucleus.

Methods. Photometric time series of 67P have been acquired by OSIRIS since the post wake-up commissioning of the payload in March 2014. Fourier analysis and convex shape inversion methods have been applied to the Rosetta data as well to the available ground-based observations.

Results. Evidence is found that the rotation rate of 67P has significantly changed near the time of its 2009 perihelion passage, probably due to sublimation-induced torque. We find that the sidereal rotation periods P1 = 12.76129 ± 0.00005 h and P2 = 12.4043 ± 0.0007 h for the apparitions before and after the 2009 perihelion, respectively, provide the best fit to the observations. No signs of multiple periodicity are found in the light curves down to the noise level, which implies that the comet is presently in a simple rotation state around its axis of largest moment of inertia. We derive a prograde rotation model with spin vector J2000 ecliptic coordinates λ = 65° ± 15°, β = + 59° ± 15°, corresponding to equatorial coordinates RA = 22°, Dec = + 76°. However, we find that the mirror solution, also prograde, at λ = 275° ± 15°, β = + 50° ± 15° (or RA = 274°, Dec = + 27°), is also possible at the same confidence level, due to the intrinsic ambiguity of the photometric problem for observations performed close to the ecliptic plane.

Published: 13 September 2014

Press kit for the 6 August 2014 press event marking the arrival of Rosetta at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Contents:
Media services
Rosetta arrives at comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Quick reference mission facts
Highlights from the Rosetta mission thus far
How Rosetta arrives at and orbits comet 67P/C-G
Selecting a Landing Site for Rosetta’s lander, Philae
Landing on a Comet
Comets – an introduction
Rosetta's comet – at a glance
Missions to comets - Rosetta in context
Appendix A: Draft programme for press event
Appendix B: Speakers at the 6 August press event
Appendix C: Selected Rosetta images & videos
Appendix D: Mission timeline for August to November
Appendix E: Distances, dates, times for mission milestones

An earlier version of the press kit contained an error on page 12: the paragraph on the provision of the lander should read: Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI.

Published: 05 August 2014

Rosetta is ESA's comet-chasing mission to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Launched on 2 March 2004, the spacecraft travelled for 10 years and required three gravity-assist flybys at Earth and one at Mars before homing in on its target.

Comets are considered to be the most primitive building blocks of our cosmic neighbourhood, surviving the Solar System's chaotic 4.6 billion-year history more or less intact. Laced with ice and organic materials, comets likely helped to 'seed' Earth with water, and perhaps even the ingredients for life. By studying one of these icy treasure chests in great detail, ESA's Rosetta is set to unlock the secrets of the Solar System.

Table of contents:

  • Rosetta: Europe's comet-chaser
  • The long trek
  • Fleeting flybys of battered worlds
  • Hot and cold
  • What do we know about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko?
  • Rendezvous with a comet
  • Landing on a comet
  • The Rosetta orbiter
  • The Philae lander
  • Escorting a comet
  • Long-distance communications
  • An international enterprise
  • Join the adventure

Note: a more recent Rosetta mission brochure (ESA BR-321) is available here.

Published: 23 July 2014
Almost six months have passed since ESA's Rosetta spacecraft woke up from deep-space hibernation, ready to complete the final leg of its 10-year comet chase. Now, with a gap of less than 200 000 km to close, the comet is firmly in Rosetta's sights.
Published: 26 June 2014
Asteroid 21 Lutetia was approached by the Rosetta spacecraft on 10 July 2010. The additional Doppler shift of the spacecraft radio signals imposed by 21 Lutetia's gravitational perturbation on the flyby trajectory were used to determine the mass of the asteroid. Calibrating and correcting for all Doppler contributions not associated with Lutetia, a least-squares fit to the residual frequency observations from 4 hours before to 6 hours after closest approach yields a mass of (1.700 ± 0.017) × 1018 kilograms. Using the volume model of Lutetia determined by the Rosetta Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) camera, the bulk density, an important parameter for clues to its composition and interior, is (3.4 ± 0.3) × 103 kilograms per cubic meter.
Published: 29 October 2011
The Visible, InfraRed, and Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on Rosetta obtained hyperspectral images, spectral reflectance maps, and temperature maps of the asteroid 21 Lutetia. No absorption features, of either silicates or hydrated minerals, have been detected across the observed area in the spectral range from 0.4 to 3.5 micrometers. The surface temperature reaches a maximum value of 245 kelvin and correlates well with topographic features. The thermal inertia is in the range from 20 to 30 joules meter-2 kelvin-1 second-0.5, comparable to a lunarlike powdery regolith. Spectral signatures of surface alteration, resulting from space weathering, seem to be missing. Lutetia is likely a remnant of the primordial planetesimal population, unaltered by differentiation processes and composed of chondritic materials of enstatitic or carbonaceous origin, dominated by iron-poor minerals that have not suffered aqueous alteration.
Published: 29 October 2011
Images obtained by the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) cameras onboard the Rosetta spacecraft reveal that asteroid 21 Lutetia has a complex geology and one of the highest asteroid densities measured so far, 3.4 ± 0.3 grams per cubic centimeter. The north pole region is covered by a thick layer of regolith, which is seen to flow in major landslides associated with albedo variation. Its geologically complex surface, ancient surface age, and high density suggest that Lutetia is most likely a primordial planetesimal. This contrasts with smaller asteroids visited by previous spacecraft, which are probably shattered bodies, fragments of larger parents, or reaccumulated rubble piles.
Published: 29 October 2011
The peculiar object P/2010 A2 was discovered in January 2010 and given a cometary designation because of the presence of a trail of material, although there was no central condensation or coma. The appearance of this object, in an asteroidal orbit (small eccentricity and inclination) in the inner main asteroid belt attracted attention as a potential new member of the recently recognized class of main-belt comets. If confirmed, this new object would expand the range in heliocentric distance over which main-belt comets are found. Here we report observations of P/2010 A2 by the Rosetta spacecraft. We conclude that the trail arose from a single event, rather than a period of cometary activity, in agreement with independent results. The trail is made up of relatively large particles of millimetre to centimetre size that remain close to the parent asteroid. The shape of the trail can be explained by an initial impact ejecting large clumps of debris that disintegrated and dispersed almost immediately. We determine that this was an asteroid collision that occurred around 10 February 2009.
Published: 14 October 2010
The first flyby of an asteroid by a European spacecraft was a major success, both from the scientific and engineering points of view. This was the first planned scientific objective of ESA's Rosetta mission, and the optical navigation campaign, performed for the first time in Europe, gave results well beyond expectations.
Published: 15 February 2010

Context. In July 2010 the ESA spacecraft Rosetta will fly by the main belt asteroid 21 Lutetia. Several observations of this asteroid have been performed so far, but its surface composition and nature are still a matter of debate. For a long time Lutetia was supposed to have a metallic nature due to its high IRAS albedo. Later on it has been suggested that the asteroid has a surface composition similar to primitive carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, while further observations proposed a possible genetic link with more evolved enstatite chondrite meteorites.

Aims. We performed visible spectroscopic observations of 21 Lutetia in November 2008 at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG, La Palma, Spain) to make a decisive contribution to solving the conundrum of its nature.

Methods. Thirteen visible spectra were acquired at different rotational phases and subsequently analyzed.

Results. We confirm a narrow spectral feature at about 0.47-0.48 microns which was already found by Lazzarin et al. (2004, A&A, 425, L25) in the spectra of Lutetia. We also confirm an earlier find of Lazzarin et al. (2004), who detected a spectral feature at about 0.6 microns in one of their Lutetia's spectra. More remarkable is the difference of our spectra though, which exhibit different spectral slopes between 0.6 and 0.75 microns and, in particular, we found that up to 20% of the Lutetia surface could have flatter spectra.

Conclusions. We detected a variation of the spectral slopes at different rotational phases that could be interpreted as possibly due to differences in the chemical/mineralogical composition as well as to inhomogeneities of the structure of the Lutetia's surface (e.g., to craters or albedo spots) in the southern hemisphere.

Published: 16 April 2010
We seek the best size estimates of the asteroid (21) Lutetia, the direction of its spin axis, and its bulk density, assuming its shape is well described by a smooth featureless triaxial ellipsoid, and to evaluate the deviations from this assumption. Methods. We derive these quantities from the outlines of the asteroid in 307 images of its resolved apparent disk obtained with adaptive optics (AO) at Keck II and VLT, and combine these with recent mass determinations to estimate a bulk density. Our best triaxial ellipsoid diameters for Lutetia, based on our AO images alone, are a x b x c = 132 x 101 x 93 km, with uncertainties of 4 x 3 x 13 km including estimated systematics, with a rotational pole within 5 deg. of ECJ2000 [long,lat] = [45, -7], or EQJ2000 [RA, DEC] = [44, +9]. The AO model fit itself has internal precisions of 1 x 1 x 8 km, but it is evident, both from this model derived from limited viewing aspects and the radius vector model given in a companion paper, that Lutetia has significant departures from an idealized ellipsoid. In particular, the long axis may be overestimated from the AO images alone by about 10 km. Therefore, we combine the best aspects of the radius vector and ellipsoid model into a hybrid ellipsoid model, as our final result, of 124 +/- 5 x 101 +/- 4 x 93 +/- 13 km that can be used to estimate volumes, sizes, and projected areas. The adopted pole position is within 5 deg. of [long, lat] = [52, -6] or[RA DEC] = [52, +12]. Using two separately determined masses and the volume of our hybrid model, we estimate a density of 3.5 +/- 1.1 or 4.3 +/- 0.8 g cm-3 . From the density evidence alone, we argue that this favors an enstatite-chondrite composition, although other compositions are formally allowed at the extremes (low-porosity CV/CO carbonaceous chondrite or high-porosity metallic). We discuss this in the context of other evidence.
Published: 09 July 2010
A taxonomic system was introduced by C. R. Chapman, D. Morrison, and B. Zellner [Icarus 25, 104 - 130 (1975)], in which minor planets are classified according to a few readily observable optical properties, independent of specific mineralogical interpretations. That taxonomy is here augmented to five classes, now precisely defined in terms of seven parameters obtained from polarimetry, spectrophotometry, radiometry, and UBV photometry of 523 objects. We classify 190 asteroids as type C, 141 as type S, 13 as type M, 3 as type E, and 3 as type R; 55 objects are shown to fall outside these five classes and are designated U (unclassifiable). For the remaining 118, the data exclude two or more types but are insufficient for unambiguous classification. Reliable diameters, from radiometry or polarimetry or else from albedos adopted as typical of the types, are listed for 396 objects. We also compare our taxonomy with other ones and discuss how classification efforts are related to the interpretation of asteroid mineralogies.
Published: 09 July 2010

Aims.The aim of this paper is to investigate the surface composition of the two asteroids 21 Lutetia and 2867 Steins, targets of the Rosetta space mission.

Methods.We observed the two asteroids through their full rotational periods with the Infrared Spectrograph of the Spitzer Space Telescope to investigate the surface properties. The analysis of their thermal emission spectra was carried out to detect emissivity features that diagnose the surface composition.

Results. For both asteroids, the Christiansen peak, the Reststrahlen, and the Transparency features were detected. The thermal emissivity shows a clear analogy to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, in particular to the CO-CV types for 21 Lutetia, while for 2867 Steins, already suggested as belonging to the E-type asteroids, the similarity to the enstatite achondrite meteorite is confirmed.

Published: 15 January 2008
Aims. A wide observational campaign was carried out in 2004-2009 that aimed to complete the ground-based investigation of Lutetia prior to the Rosetta fly-by in July 2010.

Methods. We obtained BVRI photometric and V-band polarimetric measurements over a wide range of phase angles, and visible and infrared spectra in the 0.4-2.4 micron range. We analyze them with previously published data to retrieve information about Lutetia's surface properties.

Results. Values of lightcurve amplitudes, absolute magnitude, opposition effect, phase coefficient, and BVRI colors of Lutetia surface seen at near pole-on aspect are determined. We define more precisely parameters of polarization phase curve and show their distinct deviation from any other moderate-albedo asteroid. An indication of possible variations in both polarization and spectral data across the asteroid surface are found. To explain features found by different techniques, we propose that (i) Lutetia has a non-convex shape, probably due to a large crater, and heterogeneous surface properties probably related to surface morphology; (ii) at least part of the surface is covered by a fine-grained regolith of particle size smaller than 20 micron; (iii) the closest meteorite analogues of Lutetia's surface composition are particular types of carbonaceous chondrites, or Lutetia has specific surface composition that is not representative among studied meteorites.

Published: 04 June 2010
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission encountered the main-belt asteroid (2867) Steins while on its way to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Images taken with the OSIRIS (optical, spectroscopic, and infrared remote imaging system) cameras on board Rosetta show that Steins is an oblate body with an effective spherical diameter of 5.3 kilometers. Its surface does not show colour variations. The morphology of Steins is dominated by linear faults and a large 2.1-kilometer-diameter crater near its south pole. Crater counts reveal a distinct lack of small craters. Steins is not solid rock but a rubble pile and has a conical appearance that is probably the result of reshaping due to Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) spin-up. The OSIRIS images constitute direct evidence for the YORP effect on a main-belt asteroid.
Published: 08 January 2010

Aims. We present the first albedo determination of 2867 Steins, the asteroid target of the Rosetta space mission together with 21 Lutetia.

Methods.The data were obtained in polarimetric mode at the ESO-VLT telescope with the FORS1 instrument in the V and R filters. Observations were carried out from June to August 2005 covering the phase angle range from 10.3 degrees to 28.3 degrees, allowing the determination of the asteroid albedo by the well known experimental relationship between the albedo and the slope of the polarimetric curve at the inversion angle.

Results. The measured polarization values of Steins are small, confirming an E-type classification for this asteroid, as already suggested from its spectral properties. The inversion angle of the polarization curve in the V and R filters is respectively of 17.3±1.5 degrees and 18.4±1.0 degrees, and the corresponding slope parameter is of 0.037±0.003%/deg and 0.032±0.003%/deg. On the basis of its polarimetric slope value, we have derived an albedo of 0.45±0.1, that gives an estimated diameter of 4.6 km, assuming an absolute V magnitude of 13.18 mag.

Published: 02 March 2006
The new Rosetta mission baseline to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko includes two asteroid fly-bys. To help in target selection we studied all the candidates of all the possible scenarios. Observations have been carried out at ESO-NTT (La Silla, Chile), TNG (Canaries), and NASA-IRTF (Hawaii) telescopes, in order to determine the taxonomy of all the candidates. The asteroid targets were chosen after the spacecraft interplanetary orbit insertion manoeuvre, when the available total amount of $\Delta V$ was known. On the basis of our analysis and the available of $\Delta V$, we recommended to the ESA Science Working Group the asteroids 21 Lutetia and 2867 Steins as targets for the Rosetta mission. The nature of Lutetia is still controversial. Lutetia's spectral properties may be consistent with a composition similar to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. The spectral properties of Steins suggest a more extensive thermal history. Steins may have a composition similar to relatively rare enstatite chondrite/achondrite meteorites.
Published: 01 January 2005
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