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Space | 15. July 2016 | posted by Christian Grimm

Half-time for MASCOT – half the journey is completed

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The MASCOT spare Flight Unit (FS) during further testing in Bremen

On December 3rd 2014, the French-German MASCOT asteroid lander was launched with its carrier probe Hayabusa2 from Tanegashima, an island about 40 kilometres south of the Japanese mainland. With MASCOT halfway to its destination, we look back on all that has happened since the launch.

At the beginning of 2015, MASCOT's spare flight unit, the so-called Flight Spare (FS), was refurbished and made ready. On Earth, this identical 'twin' of the asteroid lander serves as a reference system for the flight unit, the Flight Model (FM). The spare unit underwent the same qualification tests as the flight model and can also be used for advanced unit tests that were no longer possible for the FM due to scheduling constraints. These additional tests mainly focused on getting the best possible performance out of the system and on precisely calibrating the parameters required for the landing in October 2018. To achieve this, the scientific instruments on MASCOT performed a series of measurements. read more

Space | 12. November 2015

Anniversary of Philae comet landing – expecting the unexpected

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
 

By Karin Ranero Celius

One year ago today, the Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This was no easy task, of course. With the Rosetta mission, it was demonstrated that it was not only possible to travel to a comet more than 500 million kilometres from Earth, but also to follow it in its orbit around the Sun and land on it. read more

Space | 18. September 2015 | 3 Comments

Philae calling ...

Credit: CNES/DUCROS David/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM
 

By Cinzia Fantinati and Koen Geurts

On 9 July, the team at the DLR Lander Control Center made contact with Philae for the last time. Towards the end of October, Rosetta will come closer and attempts to communicate will resume. read more

Space | 12. August 2015 | posted by Fabian Walker

Video – Pieces of the Puzzle – Philae on Comet 67P

Kometenlandung (#CometLanding) von Philae am 12. November 2014
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Philae's landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (#CometLanding) on 12 November 2014 was a historic moment – the first time in the history of space exploration that a spacecraft landed on a comet. Millions of people across the world followed the Rosetta mission via the Internet. read more

Space | 05. November 2014 | posted by Christian Grimm | 1 Comment

One last look - farewell, MASCOT

Credit: DLR
Applying the final layers of protection prior to the launch

The last adjustments have been made and the final functionality tests have been completed. Following the successful installation of MASCOT into the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft in Sagamihara, the final preparations have taken place at the Tanegashima launch complex in Japan. The attachment of the solar sails – carefully folded up above MASCOT for the launch – offers the last opportunity to see MASCOT.

Now, the development team must take a step back – it is a strange feeling. For two and a half years, we have been nurturing MASCOT, seeing it grow, teaching it plenty. But now it is time to let go, in the truest sense of the word, and send it on its difficult mission. Unfortunately, we cannot accompany it.

So how do you deal with the departure of an object that is not alive in a biological sense, yet contains the personalities of so many people who have guided it so dearly throughout its development? read more

Space | 03. November 2014 | posted by Jan Wörner | 3 Comments

A very eventful time…

Philae landet auf dem Kometen
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The Rosetta mission's Philae lander touches down on the comet (video still from 'Mission into the Unknown II - the Philae Comet Lander').

"If everything is under control, you are just not (driving) fast enough." This quote is attributed to several people, including, for example, racing driver Stirling Moss. This is scant reassurance these days, at a personally challenging time marked by so much activity. For one thing, it is time to continue working on the strategic orientation of DLR that was published in summer and, above all, to discuss and draft the parts that are still missing, specifically the alignment of the various technical and structural areas. Furthermore, the consequences at the organisational level – the governance – need consideration. In parallel with this important internal work, external activities are requiring our full attention and the associated commitment. read more

Space | 24. July 2014 | posted by Elke Heinemann | 4 Comments

Closing in on Rosetta's target comet

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

 

A model of the comet's shape, based on the images acquired on 14 July 2014.

Surface structures are becoming visible in new images of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. These images, with a resolution of 100 metres per pixel, were acquired with the OSIRIS scientific imaging system on board Rosetta. The comet's neck region – the section connecting the two heads – seems to be much brighter than the head and body of the nucleus. read more

Space | 19. March 2014 | posted by Fabian Walker | 8 Comments

Bloggers and social media users – invitation to the commissioning of the Rosetta lander Philae in Cologne on 28 March

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will explore the origins of the Solar System by studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, one of its oldest and most primordial bodies. The mission consists of an orbiter and the Philae lander. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has played a significant role in the development of Philae and operates the Lander Control Centre in Cologne. DLR is preparing for and will manage the difficult, daring and, never before attempted. landing on the comet nucleus. read more

Space | 30. October 2013

T minus 377 days!

Philae in der Testanlage des DLR

377 days remain, just over one year– quite a significant amount of time. Considering that the duration of the mission up to landing is 3906 days, this is merely the final10 percent of a 10-year-long journey through interplanetary space. read more

Space | 22. October 2013 | posted by Manuela Braun

Rosetta and Philae – Nomen est omen

Philae-Lander an Bord der Rosettasonde

Scientists often use abbreviations to designate their missions or projects; examples are MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) or SHEFEX (Sharp Edged Flight Experiment). But ESA’s Rosetta mission, which will mark a first in the history of space exploration by becoming the first spacecraft to follow a comet and carry a lander that will touch down on the comet, was given its name for a different reason. The name refers to the Rosetta Stone, which allowed hieroglyphs to be deciphered. read more