Launched on 2 March 2004, Rosetta embarked on a 10-year trek through the solar system, reaching its destination on 6 August 2014 and releasing its Philae lander onto the comet’s surface on 12 November 2014. It then escorted Churyumov-Gerasimenko for two years, beaming back a wealth of unprecedented science data as the comet approached the closest point on its orbit to the Sun. They have since been pursuing their route, taking them once again out beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
This amazing scientific and human adventure is nearing its end as the spacecraft, now further from the Sun than it has ever been before, starts to run out of power and prepares to join Philae on the comet’s surface. Friday 30 September at 13:20 CET (+/- 20 minutes), ESA’s main control room will confirm the end of the Rosetta mission, having steered it onto a collision course with the comet the night before.
The spacecraft will be taking advantage of its proximity to the comet during its final hours to acquire a host of unprecedented measurements, notably to analyse gas and dust closer than ever before. It will also be sending back very-high-resolution images of the comet’s surface and the pits in the Ma’at region where it is scheduled to perform a controlled impact. These data are expected to be retrieved during the descent and right up to impact, after which all communications with the spacecraft will stop. To mark the end of this odyssey, the public is invited to watch Rosetta’s final moments live at two venues and on CNES’s website. There will be a running commentary during the descent phase in French from Michel Viso, CNES’s head of exobiology, with pictures supplied by ESA.
The two venues that will be carrying the event live are:
Cité des sciences et de l’industrie – Paris
30, avenue Corentin Cariou – 75 019 Paris
Free entry from 10:30.
With Francis Rocard, CNES’s solar system expert, and Gilles Dawidowicz from the French astronomy society as masters of ceremonies.
Cité de l’espace – Toulouse
Avenue Jean Gonord – 31 500 Toulouse
Free entry from 10:30.
With Philippe Droneau, Head of Visitors at the Cité de l’espace, as master of ceremonies, in the presence of Marc Pircher, Director of the Toulouse Space Centre, and Philippe Gaudon, former Rosetta project manager at CNES.
The project manager will be accompanied by scientists and engineers from ESA, IRAP, OMP, Toulouse III University and Airbus Defence & Space, who will be on hand to take questions from the audience and celebrate the success of this one-of-a-kind mission.
The event will also be carried live on the CNES website from 10:30
For those unable to make it to one of the two venues, CNES will be setting up a webcast with a programme in French carrying pictures from ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt.