Rosetta’s final orbits – animation

This new animation visualises Rosetta’s last two months of trajectories around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The animation begins in early August, when the spacecraft started flying elliptical orbits that brought it progressively closer to the comet at its closest approach.

On 24 September, Rosetta will leave its current close, flyover orbits and transfer into the start of a 16 x 23 km orbit that will be used to prepare and line up for the final descent.

On the evening of 29 September (20:50 GMT) Rosetta will manoeuvre onto a collision course with the comet, beginning the descent from an altitude of 19 km. The spacecraft will fall freely, without further manoeuvres, collecting scientific data during the descent.

The animation below highlights this final set of manoeuvres and the nominal timings:

Note: The trajectory depicted was created from real data provided over the last month, but may not necessarily follow the exact comet distance because of natural deviations from the comet’s gravity and outgassing.




  • Dmitrij Getman says:

    What are your thoughts on science behind the impact? When can we collect the data? Is it next time we visit the comet, or is there a chance to check the result with telescopes later? and if the later is true, when?

    • Gerald says:

      The data are collected and transmitted during descent, before the impact. Data collection ends with impact.
      The science objective is collecting data from close-up. This is technically only feasible by colliding Rosetta with the comet.
      Rosetta’s lifetime would have been very likely over in any case.

  • Gunter says:

    Would there be a chance to position Rosetta into stable orbit?

  • abra says:


    Cold coolin at a comet, and I’m lookin for some action.
    But like Neil Armstrong said, I can’t get no satisfaction.
    The Coma is all around, but none of the gas wants to get with me
    My threads are online and I’m lookin def, yo, what’s up with Philae?
    The ground crew are all jockin at the other end of the uplink.
    Havin syncs with some no-name ISS, when they know that I’m the star
    So I fired up and rolled over to the other side of the nu-cle-us
    I asked the guys, “Why you so fly?” they said, “Deir el Medina”

    Deir el Medina

    This brother told me a secret on how to get more delta-v
    Put a little mono-methyl-hydrazine in your tank, and the thrust’ll come real quick.
    It’s better than any alcohol or hypergolic hacks
    A couple of sips of this nitric potion, and you’ll be doin laps.
    So I gave some to Philae when he began to decend
    Then he clicked his roll and he looked up at me and did the wild thing with his leg
    He used to uplink nicely, before he was much much meaner
    But now he’s sittin in a rut like the Deir el Medina

    You know what I’m sayin?
    I got every satellite in my neighborhood breakin down my door
    I got Sputnik, Venera,
    V’ger from Star Trek
    They won’t leave my Philae alone in that Medina, pal

    I went up to this probe, she said, “Hi, my name is Selene”
    I thought she’d be good to go with a little Deir el Medina
    She said, “I’d like a look” I said, “Ehm – ok, I’ll go find it”
    After a couple parabolic slips, then I knew that she was a lunatic.
    So I took her to my crib, and studied the gravimetric girth
    But when we looked, it was a big old mess, Selene was an Exogorth
    So I threw him out, I don’t fool around with no space slug that’s meaner
    You must be sure that the pit is pure like the Deir el Medina

    You know, ain’t no plans with Han
    This is the 80’s, and I’m down with the Mynocks
    Ya know?

    Break it down

    Back in the saddle, lookin for a little nucleic acid payday
    I took a shot as a contestant on that Science Friday
    The audience voted, and you know they picked a winner
    I took some grains from the dusty tail for COSIMA to get a glimmer
    She had a few looks, but she could only find a little bit of glycin’
    Instead she pointed out that hole for me to go look in.
    she said, “Wait, slow down, love, not so fast says, I’ll be seein ya”
    Now I’m goin’ to boldly go dive down into that Deir el Medina.

    Ya know what I’m sayin
    That Medina’s a monster, y’all

    Deir el Medina

  • Cesare Guaita (GAT/Milano Planetarium says:

    An (in my opinion) important question
    Possibly Rosetta (as made by Philae) will jump for 100-1000 meter (during many minutes) over the comet after the first touch dawn. In this case is it possible continue the sending (and acquiring) scientific data and pictures ?
    Thanks for a reply

    • Gerald says:

      No. This is for two reasons: Rosetta is very likely too fragile to survive the touch down, and even if a bouncing would go well, Rosetta wouldn’t likely be able to point her antenna towards Earth, which is a strict necessity to communicate.
      The frequency Rosetta is sending needs to be freed reliably at end of mission by contract. This can only be warranted by automated switch-off on first touch-down.

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