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European Rosetta Space Craft About To Rendezvous With Comet 62

Taco Cowboy (5327) writes After a long 10-year journey spanning some four (4) billion kilometers, Rosetta, an interplanetary space craft from the ESA (European Space Agency), is on its final approach to comet Comet 67P (or comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko). The last in a series of 10 thruster firings over the past few months has slowed Rosetta to the pace of a person walking, about two miles per hour relative to the speed of its target at a distance of about 60 miles. Photographs have already revealed a surprisingly irregular shape for the 2.5-mile-wide comet, possibly an amalgamation of two icy bodies or a result of uneven weathering during previous flybys. From a distance, the blurry blob initially looked somewhat like a rubber duck. As the details came into the focus, it now more resembles a knob of ginger flying through space. Wednesday marks a big moment for space exploration: After a few thruster rockets fire for a little over six minutes, Rosetta will be in position to make the first-ever rendezvous with that comet nickname 'Rubber Duck.' 'This burn, expected to start at 11 a.m. central European time, will tip Rosetta into the first leg of a series of triangular paths around the comet, according to the Paris-based European Space Agency, or ESA, which oversees the mission. Each leg will be about 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, and it will take Rosetta between three to four days to complete each leg. There will be a live streaming webcast of Rosetta's Aug. 6 orbital arrival starting at 8 a.m. GMT via a transmission from ESA's spacecraft operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Also at the BBC.
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European Rosetta Space Craft About To Rendezvous With Comet

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  • by Trapezium Artist ( 919330 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @01:39AM (#47611901)

    Our live webcast will be at starting at 10:00 CEST / 08:00 UT. Should be some cool new pictures of the comet to see.

    (Disclaimer: I'll be one of the speakers :-)

  • by atom1c ( 2868995 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @03:02AM (#47612075)

    The URL is []

    I'm actually surprised that the post/summary doesn't include it (except for the incidental embedded version in the one article linked).

  • by Calinous ( 985536 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:24AM (#47612273)

    There are severe limits on sending antenna size and power use on the craft. They use a 2.2 meters diameter dish (seven feet), with 850W electric power from solar panels to transmit from a distance about one hundred thousand times greater than geostationary TV satellites.
          It's like the difference between whispering at someone's ear (half and inch away) and shouting for someone a mile away. I can't think of a car analogy on five orders of magnitude, but I'm sure someone will be more inspired

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @04:56AM (#47612357)

    In Rosetta's case, the OSIRIS cameras (one narrow angle, one wide angle) have a resolution 2048x2048. You have to remember Rosetta was launched in 2004, and I would guess the spacecraft hardware was finalized sometime before 2000. 4MP is actually a pretty good resolution for a digital camera from that era - for example the first consumer 4MP camera was the SONY DSC-S85 from 2001. OSIRIS has a whole load of filters it can use (see which are mostly designed for science (e.g. looking for specific molecules), but do include separate RGB filters on the narrow angle camera, so colour images should be possible.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.