Rosetta operations update

A short update from the Rosetta mission team at ESOC, still working today in the Main Control Room. We spoke a few minutes ago with Ignacio Tanco, deputy spacecraft operations manager, who reports that the spacecraft is doing very well, thank you!

Rosetta flight control team in the main control room at ESOC on 13 November. Credit: ESA

Rosetta flight control team in the main control room at ESOC on 13 November. Credit: ESA

  1. Rosetta is operating nominally; the network systems and overall ground segment to control the mission are nominal
  2. Last night, Rosetta lost contact with Philae as expected when it orbited below the horizon just after 20:00 CET.
  3. Contact was re-established this morning at 06:01 UTC / 07:01 CET, and the Philae-Rosetta radio link was initially unstable.
  4. As Rosetta rose higher above the Philae landing site, the link became very stable and the lander could transmit telemetry (status and housekeeping information) and science data from the surface.
  5. This morning’s surface link was again lost due to Rosetta’s orbit at about 09:58 UTC / 10:58 CET. Ignacio explains that with the current orbit, Rosetta will have, typically, two Philae communication windows per day.
  6. The next window opens at 19:27 UTC on the spacecraft and runs through to 23:47 UTC spacecraft time.

The team are ensuring that Rosetta maintains an orbit that is optimised for lander communication support; they are planning a manoeuvre (thruster burn) today to be conducted on Friday that will help keep Rosetta where it should be. Rosetta already conducted a burn last night as part of this effort.

Rosetta is presently sending signals to the ground stations at about 28 Kbps; Ignacio says that the spacecraft’s own telemetry downlink uses about 1 or 2 Kbps of this, so the rest is being used to download science data from Rosetta and lander science and telemetry from the surface.









  • Maciek says:

    What about harpoons?

    • Cometstalker says:

      They are supposed to work and did not. A lot of things don’t work any more.

  • gerhard dutka says:

    amazing! just amazing !
    congratulations to the team. try to get some sleep !

  • Nikolaos says:

    That’s great! But what about Philae? When will you report on its state? Or will another blog take over?

  • oneaty says:

    Thanks for the update. It’s this kind of communication – more scientific, more technical, less emotive, less superficial, less childish – that some followers of this great event miss. Nothing against children, but it’s up to their parents to translate content like this one to their kids. So far, you’ve been excessively superficial.
    Thanks again

  • Redgy Devos says:

    At first impression it appears that our little friend landed on or between some rocks & boulders. Just look at the difference in height between the two small footpads at the end of one of the landing gear legs. Hope Philae will be able to drill for samples.

  • Richard says:

    PLEASE Can you use black text on a white background!!!!Then I might be able to read what is going on.
    This pale blue text on slighter paler bluer paper is impossible to read in daylight.
    That said….. CONGRATULATIONS. I look forward to the next few months reports.

    • Dr. V. Laxmanan says:

      Fully agree with Richard. Whose idea was this anyway? Very difficult to read.

  • Zlikster says:

    Can the drill be used even if the lander is not anchored with harpoons, yet firmed just with leg screws? what about if it’s angled, can drill still be operated?

    Can drill be used to anchor it further or it’s effect can be quite opposite to push it off comet?

  • KH says:

    It would be nice if your blog entries would show the TIME posted, not only the day. With so many events in a day as we have now, this helps to sort out the acutality of what we read and if there is something new. You can see the importance of TIME information if you just read your blog entry above.

    Rgds KH

    • Dr. V. Laxmanan says:

      I learned that from my thesis advisor many years ago and never forgot it. Always put the date and in this case the time as well. LOL!

  • julien verrydt says:

    the most important is to find proof for bringing water to the earth and more complicated molecules for making DNA
    and bringing something of the comet to the earth
    it is be better to use science and technology for this than for making war . I hope that we have new missions with everybody of all nations. This is a new start for human mankind.

  • Guy Haworth says:

    Many congratulations on such a great achievement.

    In particular, the Philae flight-time and (presumably, first) landing point were really close to predictions.

    Was landing on a surface with minimal gravity (and therefore minimal terminal velocity for Philae) a consideration in choosing ‘J’?


  • CapeSun says:

    Can’t wait for more details on surface conditions, makeup etc. Oh and let’s not forget lots of pictures ! 🙂 Congratulations on a great job all!

  • Steve S says:

    Absolutely Fantastic!
    My goodness I would give my right arm to work on this stuff. Very well done!

  • Jonathan Gohman says:

    It sound as if you meant to use the word “normal” rather than “nominal” in the first bullet (13 November update). ”nominal” can be interpreted as “next to nothing” or “exists in name only”.

    I’m so fascinated by what you (ESA) have accomplished. You’re on the forefront while our (US) days of real discovery are waning.


    • Sean says:

      According to Merriam-Webster, “nominal” also means “according to plan”: being according to plan : satisfactory

    • Frank Cross says:

      “Nominal” is an American English word which just means “normal”. In America they never use two syllables when three will do.

      • logan says:

        Not my mother tongue, but ‘nominal’ sounds geometric, and ‘normal’ sounds statistic.

      • El Sid says:

        Given that the UK contributes €300m/year to ESA, we’re entitled to the use of the Queen’s English!

        In British English, the most common use of nominal is of something theoretical, “in name only”. So the Queen is our nominal head of state even if she has little real power, and One Direction are nominally musicians. You can work out from the context here that the Rosetta team mean “performing to nameplate specification”, but the kindest thing that can be said is that such use is jargon, and so is not helpful for mass communication.

        • logan says:

          Hi El Sid. Love United Kingdom English. Also think about the multiple ‘variations’ at international ESA. English is a spirited language.

    • Larry says:

      The online Oxford English Dictionary lists several meanings for “nominal” including the space flight meaning (“functioning normally or acceptably”) and what I consider the predecessor of that meaning (“Of a quantity … stated … but not necessarily corresponding exactly to the real value”). One example given is the weight printed on a food package, which is inexact but close enough to be acceptable to regulators and consumers. When applied to space flight metrics, “nominal” became a shorthand for “acceptably close enough to the nominal value.”

  • budyk says:

    Great…we’re waiting Updates regarding the Quest of life in the Solar system

  • Paul Williams says:

    How much light is falling on the comet to make it visible to cameras? Is it sunlight? What wattage is it equivalent to?

    • ItsMe says:

      I read that it’s .11 times that of the normal solar intensity on Earth. I think that the normal sunlight power is 1365 Watts/meter squared. I think the sunlight power on the surface of the comet is supposed to be about 150 Watts / meter squared.

    • El Sid says:

      It’s sunlight, but the real problem is that the comet is very black, if I remember correctly it absorbs 96% of all light falling on it.

    • El Sid says:

      I’ve just come across a paper on the solar cells – 67P is currently about 3AU from the sun, so the light intensity is 11% of that on Earth, or about 150 W/m2

  • XV says:


    Congratulations – This is a wonderful achievement, and I am wishing the future operations much luck.

    Please time stamp your blogs.

    Is it just me or are the blogs a mess?

    I expected to come here and find ONE blog with a timeline but the information seems to be all over the place and not time stamped. It would be much better if someone could organise it as ONE feed with the mission pictures in place etc. with links off to other blogs as the science packages start to bear fruit.

    • Cometstalker says:

      “Posted on and by whom” is not enough? Also each comment is time stamped. If messy then not concerning date , time and author.

      To get structur in it a sorting machine like put all hugs and kisses in one box, all grammatical correction in the next hole, all questions asked in another place and all comet commentary somewhere on the shelve.

  • Sue K says:

    Congratulations to you all! What a fantastic achievement.

    I just wish the media reporting was more positive and less emphasis played on the negatives (such as the harpoons not working).

    You’ve landed a craft on a comet 300million miles away – blooming blimey that’s awesome!

  • Andrew says:

    I think that if COSAC is operable, which is an unknown even before touchdown, then drilling at the earliest possible time, despite the risks should be attempted.

  • Armando says:

    Please add to all the realeased news and posts the date and the time.
    Oh, i relember that date and time can be terrestrial time or sideral time or rosetta’s time or… How to know?
    Please be SCIENTIFIC when you release info or data to the public.
    P.S. : Congratulations. Great Goal!

  • Alexandre Raposo says:

    Great job guys! Congrats and lots of good vibes from Brazil!

  • Robert Stafi says:

    Congratulation to all the People involved in this amazing Project! It’s really breathtaking, such a long journey on such a distance and still so much success!
    Looking forward for the upcoming news.

  • Robert Stafi says:

    It’s mentioned that Rosetta is sending signals to the ground at about 28 Kbps; Is this a continuous transmission rate or is this only during some time during the day?

    • El Sid says:

      There’s two transmission windows per day – Rosetta is orbiting the comet so for much of the day it’s on the wrong side of the comet.

  • Ron Gerbron says:

    Congratulations! One question about the “top 10” images, specifically about no.2: what are those two planets visible in the background?

  • Peter Willems says:

    I have no comments on whatever, I just want to thank all the ESA people for doing such a perfect and great job. It helps us and me further on our path of wisdom. Congratulations!!!!

  • Stein says:

    Looks like this is a dead end. They have to try to jump before the battery dies. Nothing to loose here guys!

  • Franjo Schiller says:

    Wo ist mein Kommentar von gestern Nachmittag “in perfect Oxford English”? Ich habe dafür 10 Minuten meines Lebens geopfert. I am so excited about the comet mission.

  • Voyager says:

    On the subject of TIME, can I just say that sometimes in these blogs time is qouted as UTC (Universal Co-ordinated time), on other occassions as CET (Central European Time) and on yet other occasions as GST (Galileo Satellite Time).
    This can be quite confusing. So in addition to whichever time format you decide to use, could you also quote the time in GMT (Greenwich Meridian Time) which is familiar to a lot of people. Just a suggestion that’s all. 🙂

  • William says:

    My colleague, an amateur physicist, told me this morning that according to his observations and calculations, there were two significant impacts upon the comet by the landing craft and a final minor impact at the time of final stable positioning on the surface. He has suggested that each of the significant impacts may have had the effect of slightly varying the trajectory of the comet. Has the ESA team investigated these possible changes to the direction of flight of the comet? If not, will the ESA do so and widely publish the technical data resulting from the investigation?

  • William says:

    Has the ESA team investigated the possibility that the impacts of the landing craft might have caused minor changes to the trajectory of the comet and what the possible consequences of that might be?

  • Dr. V. Laxmanan says:

    I am curious about the times taken by Rosetta to complete one orbit and how it is affected by the distance from the center. Have not been able to get any information about this. Anyone knows if this might be available? Thanks.

Comments are closed.