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Emily LakdawallaNovember 13, 2007

Rosetta is closing in on Earth

We're less than an hour away from Rosetta's Earth flyby; closest approach will happen south of South America at 20:57 UTC. The Rosetta flyby blog has some neat photos of screens of data being transmitted real-time from the spacecraft. Images don't come in real-time, but one of the graphs shows the temperature of the VIRTIS imaging spectrometer, as it's being cooled in preparation for its science operations. It's probably shooting photos right now! Those images will -- if everything goes well -- be posted on the ESA website after I go to bed tonight; I'll check in again on Rosetta tomorrow morning to look for them.

Here's the anticipated timeline:

Time (UTC)Event
November 7
00:00Science observations begin with measurements of Earth's magnetosphere
to be continued until November 20)
November 13
00:00Turn spacecraft toward Earth
Rosetta will approach Earth from its night side.)
20:57Closest approach to Earth
21:02Turn spacecraft toward the Moon
22:00Begin Moon imaging and science observations
to be continued until November 20)
November 14
00:45Begin data downli
There will be one downlink slot every day until November 22)
08:00Images on ESA website
10:02End of Moon pointing slot
(Fields and particles observations can continue even when the spacecraft is not pointed at Earth or the Moon.)
November 15
 Images of Earth-Moon system from distance

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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