Rosetta Mission

Rosetta is the first mission which will escort a comet from almost aphelion to perhelion and beyond. The ESA spacecraft was launched on 2nd May 2004 by a Ariane-V rocket for a ten year circuit until arrival at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. Rosetta used several flybys at Earth and Mars to gain momentum.
It also flewby at two asteroids, Steins in 2008 and Lutetia in 2010 during its cruise to the outer solar system.

Rosetta – Data

Launch 2nd March 2004, 08:17 am MEZ
Launch site Kourou, French Guayana
Launcher rocket ARIANE 5 G
Duration of the mission In total 12 years, until December 2015
Mission Control Center European Space Operations Center (ESOC), Darmstadt
Philae Lander Control Center DLR MUSC, Cologne
Ground stations Perth (Australia), NASA Deep Space Network
Start weight 3.000 kg
Fuel 1.670 kg
Scientific actual load 165 kg
Dimensions orbiter 2,8 x 2,1 x 2,0 m
Dimensions solar cell 2 pieces, each with 14 m length, with a total plain of 64 sqm
Energy supply / Energy production of the solar cells 850 W at 3,4 AU*, 395 W at 5,25 AU*
Communication antenna High gain antenna, 2,2 m diameter, rotatable
*AU = astronomical unit (mean distance between Earth and Sun, approx. 150 million km)
Weight 100 kg
Data transfer 16 kilobytes per second via orbiter
Energy supply Solar generator, 4 W, primary (for the first 60 hours after landing on the comet) and secondary (rechargeable) batteries
Time schedule
Start March 2004
1st Earth flyby March 2005
Mars flyby March 2007
2nd Earth flyby November 2007
3rd Earth flyby November 2009
Rendezvous maneuver May 2014
Global mapping of the comet August 2014
Landing on the comet November 2014
Orbit flight August 2015
End of the mission December 2015

Primary objectives of the Rosetta mission:

  • Investigation of the origin of the Solar System through the investigation of the composition of a comet
  • Global characterization of the comet nucleus (dynamical properties, surface morphology, composition)
  • Chemical, mineralogical and isotopical composition of the volatile and solid substances of the comet nucleus
  • Physical properties and correlation between the volatile and solid substances of the comet nucleus
  • Investigation of the evolution of the comet activity and the processes in the crust of the nucleus and the inner coma (dust/gas interaction)
  • Investigation of the general characteristics of the asteroids including the investigation of their dynamical properties, surface morphology and composition

The orbiter payload consists of twelve experiments to study the comet nucleus and the gas and dust cloud surrounding the comet. Lander payload provides the possibility to analyze the core surface and the structures below at close range. The following tables show the experiments and instruments of the Rosetta orbiter and thelander.


Radio Science
RSI Radio Science uses the telecommunication system of the spacecraft, and an ultra stable oscillator (USO) in two frequencies (S band downlink, 2.3 GHz; X band up- and downlink, 8.4 GHz) to investigate the comet nucleus, the coma and the asteroids
Remote sensing
OSIRIS High resolution camera (250 – 1000 nm)
ALICE UV-spectrometer (0,7 – 205 nm)
VIRTIS Spectrometer in visible and infrared wavelength regime
MIRO Microwave spectrometer (1,3 mm and 0,5 mm)
Analysis of the composition
ROSINA Neutral gas and ion mass spectrometer
COSIMA Dust mass spectrometer
MIDAS Dust microscope
Großskalige Struktur des Kometenkerns
CONSERT Kern Tomographie
Dust-mass distribution and mass flow
GIADA Dust detector
Comet plasma environment and interaction with solar winds
RPC Plasma analysis

Rosetta Lander Philae Actual Load

Rosetta lander – Philae
APX α-particles and X-ray detector
COSAC Gas analysis and elementary, molecular composition, respectively
Gas analysis and isotope composition
Rosetta lander cameras
SESAME Material analysis
MUPUS Material analysis
ROMAP Magnetometer and plasma analysis
CONSERT Tomography of the core

Further information on the ESA-website