Posted on 22/09/2016 by emily
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.