Emily LakdawallaSep 04, 2008

Rosetta's just a day away from Steins and now on target

There are new Rosetta images of Steins, still a faint speck among the background of stars. Here's an animation:

Rosetta approaches Steins

ESA

Rosetta approaches Steins
The Rosetta spacecraft fine-tuned its approach to the asteroid Steins using images from its navigation camera captured during the month prior to the encounter. The four images in this animation were taken daily from August 25 through 29. As the images were focused on Steins, background stars appear to move from day to day. Since the exposure was set for Steins, which is growing brighter as Rosetta approaches, the background stars get fainter with each day. Also visible (and not moving with respect to Steins) is some instrument noise. The star field observed within the camera images was compared to the catalog of stars developed by ESA's Hipparcos satellite. A total of 164 star matches was used to refine the mission's estimate of the location of Steins to within a millidegree.
Rosetta's predicted position, September 4

Rosetta's predicted position, September 4

I've added a table of links to the top of our Rosetta page indicating where you can learn more about the status of the flyby. According to Daniel Muller's timeline, it looks like the ROMAP magnetometer and plasma instrument -- which is located not on the Rosetta spacecraft, but instead on its piggybacked lander, called Philae -- is just about to start a lengthy 10-hour set of observations of the space environment as the spacecraft zooms toward its encounter, now about 1 day and 1.5 million kilometers away. (Wow. 1.5 million kilometers per day is pretty fast.)

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