Rosetta swings by Mars
The unique spacecraft is now on track to its next destination: Earth.
Provided by ESA, Noordwijk, Netherlands
February 27, 2007
At 3:57 A.M. CST Sunday, mission controllers at ESOC, ESA's Space Operations Center in Germany, confirmed Rosetta's successful swingby of Mars, a key milestone in the 4.4-billion mile (7.1-billion kilometer) journey of this unique spacecraft to its target comet, 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in 2014.
The closest approach took place at 3:15 A.M. CET, at a distance of 250 kilometers from the surface. The gravitational energy of Mars helped Rosetta change direction, while the spacecraft was decelerated with respect to the Sun by an estimated 7,887 kilometers per hour. The spacecraft is now on the correct track towards Earth — the next destination planet whose gravitational energy Rosetta will exploit in November this year to gain acceleration and continue on its trek.
Amazing images around the closest approach were returned by the Rosetta orbiter camera (OSIRIS) and by the Philae lander imaging system (CIVA).