Rosetta’s last orbits around the comet


Animation of Rosetta’s trajectory over the last two months of its mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The animation begins in early August, when the spacecraft started flying elliptical orbits that brought it progressively closer to the comet at its closest approach.

On 24 September 2016, Rosetta will leave its current close, flyover orbits and transfer into the start of a 16 x 23 km orbit that will be used to prepare and line up for the final descent.

On the evening of 29 September (20:50 GMT) Rosetta will manoeuvre onto a collision course with the comet, beginning the descent from an altitude of 19 km. The spacecraft will fall freely, without further manoeuvres, collecting scientific data during the descent.

The trajectory shown here was created from real data provided over the last month, but may not necessarily follow the exact comet distance because of natural deviations from the comet’s gravity and outgassing.

Find out more about Rosetta at:

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  1. That suicidal kamikaze burn there at the end is fascinating and depressing. We'll get fabulous science from the moments before impact, but to see the spacecraft's death dive like that is difficult to see

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