Archive for September 29, 2016

09/29/2016 – Ephemeris – The Rosetta spacecraft starts its fatal dive today

September 29, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 29th.  The Sun will rise at 7:38.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 7:26.  The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:09 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning at 6:40 a.m. give or take 20 minutes the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft will slowly crash into Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after orbiting it for a bit over 2 years.  The comet is carrying Rosette out toward Jupiter’s orbit where the spacecraft cannot receive enough sunlight to power it.  Today the controllers will command the spacecraft to perform the collision maneuver to cancel Rosetta’s complete orbital velocity and let it fall straight down to hit the head of the rubber ducky shaped comet.  It’s antenna will be facing Earth and it will be taking pictures all the way down for immediate transmission because Rosetta will turn off its transmitter forever when it impacts the comet.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.



An artist’s illustration of the European Space Agency’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft. Credit: ESA – C. Carreau

Rosetta, Final orbit

Rosetta, Final orbit. Credit & copyright European Space Agency (ESA)