For those of you who couldn’t follow the live streamed event this morning, here’s a short summary of what happened here at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt at the Rosetta Rendezvous event. A full replay of the livestream can be found here.
The morning started with a welcome speech from Thomas Reiter (ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Mission Operations and Head of the European Space Operations Centre, ESOC) and addresses by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain; Parliamentary State Secretary Brigitte Zypries, Air and Space Coordinator for the German Federal Government (BMWE); Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Chairman of the DLR German Aerospace Center; Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the French space agency, CNES; and Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian space agency, ASI.
Then the programme switched to the Mission Control Room, where we heard from a number of scientists and engineers that are closely involved with Rosetta, as they waited for the final rendezvous manoeuvre to begin. We heard from Paolo Ferri (Head of Mission Operations Department, ESA, Darmstadt), Matt Taylor (ESA Rosetta Project Scientist) and Frank Budnik (ESA Rosetta Flight Dynamics expert).
At 11:00 CEST (09:00 UTC) Sylvain Lodiot, ESA Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager, announced that Rosetta’s last burn had started.
As everyone in the room looked forward to the end of the manoeuvre, three of the Principal Investigators from Rosetta talked about some of their recent discoveries: Holger Sierks from MPS in Göttingen, Germany, who is the PI of the OSIRIS instrument; Fabrizio Capaccioni from IAPS in Rome, Italy, who is the PI of the VIRTIS instrument, and Samuel Gulkis from NASA JPL in Pasadena, USA, who is the PI of the MIRO instrument.
Last but definitely not least, the programme switched back to Sylvain Lodiot and to Andrea Accomazzo, ESA Rosetta Flight Director, who both explained more details about today’s manoeuvre and the rendezvous.
Finally, at 09:02:29 UTC on board Rosetta, the final burn ended, meaning that Rosetta has arrived at her destination. “We are at the comet,” announced a jubilant Sylvain Lodiot to the delight of the large crowd following the event at ESOC, around 11:29 CEST.
Arriving at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is an historic moment for this remarkable mission. The morning programme closed with remarks of accomplishment and excitement by Mark McCaughrean, Senior Scientific Advisor, ESA Directorate of Space and Robotic Exploration, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Álvaro Giménez, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
Highlights from this afternoon’s session will be posted later, as will a replay of the afternoon session.