Daniel ScukaJan 21, 2014

Rosetta update from mission control

This article originally appeared on ESA's Rosetta Blog and is reposted here with permission.

We spoke with (a slightly tired but hugely happy) Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo earlier this afternoon and he reports the spacecraft is doing fine!

Signal received from Rosetta
Signal received from Rosetta Image: ESA / Jürgen Mai

Here's a quick update:

  • After yesterday's spectacular receipt of first signal at 19:18 CET, ending 31 months of hibernation, the team have re-established full control over Rosetta.
  • All basic parameters have been checked out, and it looks like Rosetta came through hibernation fine.
  • For example, the propellant tank temperatures are running now at 7–9 °C, slightly colder than the 10-15 °C expected but well within predictions
  • Power levels (i.e. electricity available from the huge solar panels) are fine and substantially similar to the levels prior to hibernation.
  • The solar arrays appear not to have suffered very much degradation if any during 31 months.
  • Team working today to start configuring the solid-state mass memory for use.
  • Next big step will be warming up the reaction wheels and then spinning them up for verification; this will take several days.
  • Acquisition of signal (AOS) yesterday came 18 minutes later than hoped for, but also well within expectations.
  • The slight AOS delay was due to the on-board computer automatically rebooting itself at the beginning of the hibernation exit sequence; the team is looking into this (but Andrea stresses this is not problematic).
  • The team has switched the spacecraft's transmitter to X-band; this means we can now get a decent download rate of about 9 kbps.
  • Tracking has been provided via NASA's Canberra and ESA's New Norcia stations; NASA Goldstone was on call for backup; from now DSN stations will swap roles (Canberra will be on call for back-up).

In summary?

"We're very happy," says Andrea. "The exit from hibernation and wake up went about as close to nominal as we could have wished."

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