Emily LakdawallaSep 30, 2016

Rosetta is gone

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
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.Image: ESA / Rosetta / NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

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

Churyumov-Gerasimenko's two terrains
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.Image: ESA / Rosetta / MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA

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

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