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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Rosetta is gone

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

30-09-2016 8:13 CDT

Topics: Rosetta and Philae, comets, mission status, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Today there is one less spacecraft returning science data from beyond Earth. The European Space Operations Centre received the final transmission from Rosetta at 11:19 September 30, UT. A very quiet control center and press room watched as the strong signal from Rosetta’s high-gain antenna suddenly vanished. A few people applauded, but the mood here is subdued.

The spacecraft transmitted scientific data all the way down to just meters above the surface and seconds before impact. A few instruments shared live science updates via Twitter.

But today is really more about the moment than about the data. As usual, artists were inspired...


Data from these last hours will trickle out slowly, over time. The final NavCam images were taken right after the final maneuver. This is the last view ever taken by Rosetta's NavCam:

Rosetta's final NavCam image

ESA / Rosetta / NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Rosetta's final NavCam image
After firing its rockets to send the spacecraft on an impact trajectory, Rosetta captured five NavCam images to help navigators predict its final path. This is the final NavCam image of the mission. Taken on 30 September 2016 at 00:59 UTC, when Rosetta was 17.4 km from the center of the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, about 15.4 km from the surface. The scale at the surface is about 1.5 m/pixel and the image measures about 1.5 km across.

And here is one of the OSIRIS images taken midway through the descent.

Churyumov-Gerasimenko's two terrains

ESA / Rosetta / MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA

Churyumov-Gerasimenko's two terrains
This OSIRIS image was taken early in Rosetta's final descent toward the comet, at 06:53 on 30 September 2016, from a range of 8.9 kilometers. It features the two main kinds of terrain on the comet: rocky-textured, fractured material, and smooth, dust-covered material. When fully enlarged, the image has a resolution of 17 centimeters per pixel.

I'll post more pictures and facts later. For now: Farewell, Rosetta. You were a good spacecraft.

See other posts from September 2016


Or read more blog entries about: Rosetta and Philae, comets, mission status, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko


Karen: 09/30/2016 09:29 CDT

Always a punch in the gut. At least with a craft like NH, long after its final flyby you still have the knowledge that it's still alive out there, slowly drifting into the void...

Bernard: 09/30/2016 03:35 CDT

It's a very sad day indeed but all good things must come to an end. Philae and Rosetta have definetly deserved a place in our hearts . May they rest in peace...

Julia: 09/30/2016 08:06 CDT

This makes me feel so sad.... Thank you Rosetta, for all you have given us.

Roshaan: 10/01/2016 11:55 CDT

OMG this is so emotional! :(

Marco Parigi: 10/01/2016 10:01 CDT

Hi Emily, Thanks for this summary of sentimental tweets! There was also recently more extensive maps of 67P which include the southern hemiduck: These 67P maps of regions need more review for accuracy There are errors see: There is considerable public and scientific interest and confused maps will translate to confusion about remodelling and confusion about processes.

A.E.C.: 10/01/2016 10:42 CDT

We're all sorry to see R. perish; but overjoyed to read the messages it sent our way.

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