Wednesday, May 21, 2014 • 2:00–2:30 p.m.
Exploratorium, Pier 15, Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Free with museum admission
Join Exploratorium scientist Paul Doherty as he discusses the most difficult phase of the Rosetta mission—its final rendezvous with the fast-moving Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Braking maneuvers, which began in January and will continue through May, are slowing the spacecraft down to 25 meters per second as it edges closer to the nucleus.
As the Rosetta spacecraft drifts toward the heart of the comet, the mission team is trying to avoid comet dust so it can achieve the best illumination conditions for image capture. The first images will help scientists dramatically improve their calculations of the comet’s position and orbit, as well as its size, shape, and rotation. Accurate calculations of the comet’s orbit are essential for a successful landing in November 2014.