Technical data and mission history

Rosetta in figures




The European Space Agency (ESA) approves the Rosetta mission

November 1993

Original launch date

(to comet 46P/Wirtanen; postponed due to technical problems with the launcher)

Beginning of 2003

Launch of Rosetta to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

2 March 2004, 08:17 CET

1st Earth gravity assist

4 March 2005

Mars gravity assist

25 February 2007

2nd Earth gravity assist

13 November 2007

Asteroid steins flyby

5 September 2008

3rd Earth gravity assist

13 November 2009

Asteroid Lutetia flyby

10 July 2010

Enter deep space hibernation

8 June 2011

Exit deep space hibernation

20 January 2014, 10:00 GMT

Major comet rendezvous manoeuvre

May 2014

Arrive at comet

6 August 2014

Philae lander delivery

12 November 2014

Perihelion passage
(Closest approach to Sun)

13 August 2015

Mission end

30 September 2016




Launch date

2 March 2004, 08:17 CET

Launch site

Kourou, French Guiana


Ariane 5G

Mission duration

12 years in total, until December 2015

Mission Control Centre

European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt

Philae Lander Control Centre

DLR Microgravity User Support Centre, Cologne

Ground stations

Perth (Australia), Kourou (French Guiana)

Launch Mass

3000 kilograms


1670 kilograms

Science payload

165 kilograms




Orbiter dimensions

2.8 x 2.1 x 2.0 metres

Solar panel dimensions

Two panels, each 14 metres long; total surface area of 64 square metres

Power via solar panels

850 W at 3.4 AU*, 395 W at 5.25 AU*

Communications antenna

Two-axis steerable high-gain antenna, 2.2 metres in diameter

Instruments on the orbiter (11)



Imaging ultraviolet spectrometer to analyse the composition of the comet's nucleus, coma and ion tail.

CONSERT (Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radio wave Transmission)

Transmits long-wave radio signals through the comet's nucleus to explore its structure.

COSIMA (Cometary Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer)

Mass spectrometer that collects cometary dust grains and analyses their chemical composition.

GIADA (Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator)

Determines the number, size and speed of the dust grains in the coma.

MIDAS (Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System)

High-resolution scanning probe microscope that studies the fine structure of the dust particles around the asteroids and comet.

MIRO (Microwave Spectrometer for the Rosetta Orbiter)

Microwave instrument for determining the composition of the core and coma, as well as for measuring cometary activity and determining physical properties of the surface of the nucleus (temperature) and coma molecules (density, temperature, and velocity).

OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and InfraRed Remote Imaging System)

A telephoto and wide-angle camera that will acquire high-resolution images in different spectral bands for the characterisation of the nucleus and its surroundings.

ROSINA (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis)

The instrument consists of two mass spectrometers and a pressure sensor and determines the chemical composition of the coma, the isotope ratios and the temperature and speed of the gas molecules.

RPC (Rosetta Plasma Consortium)

Comprises ion and electron detectors and a magnetometer to measure physical properties of the nucleus and coma as well as the interaction of the coma and tail with the solar wind.

RSI (Radio Science Investigation)

Uses the spacecraft communication system to determine the gravitational field, the comet size, mass and shape, as well as the structure of the nucleus.

VIRTIS (Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer)

Imaging spectrometer that measures the composition and temperature of the surface and characterises the gas molecules in the coma.

Philae Lander

Philae Lander



100 kilograms

Data transmission

16 kilobytes per second via the orbiter

Energy supply

Solar generator, 4 Watts, primary (for the first 60 hours after the landing on the comet) and secondary (rechargeable) batteries

Instruments on the lander (10)


APX (Alpha-Particle-X-Ray-Spectrometer)

Spectrometer for analysing the chemical composition of matter directly on the comet's surface.

CIVA (Comet Infrared and Visible Analyzer)

Photographs the landing site and examines the samples of the comet’s surface acquired with the SD2 drill through microscopes.

CONSERT (Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radio wave Transmission)

Radio wavelength probe for the screening of the nucleus in conjunction with the orbiter.

COSAC (Cometary Sampling and Composition)

Determines the elementary, isotopic and chemical composition of the frozen components of the comet’s surface to a depth of 30 centimetres.

MUPUS (Multi-Purpose Sensors for Surface and Subsurface Science)

Several sensors measure the surface temperature and thermal conductivity of the ground.

PTOLEMY (Methods Of Determining and Understanding Light elements from Unequivocal Stable isotope compositions)

An evolved gas analyser, which obtains accurate measurements of isotopic ratios of light elements.

ROLIS (Rosetta Lander Imaging System)

Panoramic camera to photograph the landing site during and after Philae's landing phase.

ROMAP (Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasmamonitor)

Studies the magnetic field of the comet and the comet/solar-wind interaction.

SD2 (Sample, Drill and Distribution)

Drilling mechanism for obtaining samples at a depth of up to 30 centimetres.

SESAME (Surface Electric Sounding and Acoustic Monitoring Experiment)

Comprises sensors for measuring the acoustic and dielectric characteristics of the nucleus as well as a particle impact monitor.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko



Kuiper Belt object moving in an elliptical orbit around the Sun between Jupiter and Earth; belongs to the Jupiter family of comets.

Year of discovery



K. Churyumov, University of Kiev, Ukraine
S. Gerasimenko, Institute of Astrophysics, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

First images of comet nucleus

Acquired on 12 March 2003 by the Hubble Space Telescope; they show an oval body roughly 3 by 5 kilometres.

Mean diameter of nucleus

4 kilometres

Orbital period around the Sun

6.45 years

Minimum distance to the Sun (perihelion)

186 million kilometres (1.24 AU* )

Maximum distance from the Sun (aphelion)

857 million kilometres (5.68 AU* )

Orbital eccentricity

0.64 (elliptical orbit)

Rotation period

12.4 to 12.9 hours

Development of orbit

In 1840, the perihelion distance was 4 AU; a Jupiter flyby followed, decreasing the perihelion distance. By 1959, the perihelion distance was 2.7 AU; another Jupiter flyby in February 1959 reduced it further to today's value.

Albedo (reflectivity)

0.04 (very low, darker than coal)

Density of the surface material

100 to 500 kilograms per cubic metre (comparable with a dry sponge).

Mass loss

During the perihelion pass on 13 August 2015, up to 300 kilograms of comet dust per second were swept to space by sublimating ice.

* AU = Astronomical Unit, 1 AU equals roughly the distance from Earth to the Sun


Elke Heinemann

Digital Communications
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-1852

Dr. Ekkehard Kührt

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Planetary Research, Asteroids and Comets
Linder Höhe, 51147 Köln

Stephan Ulamec

MMX rover scientific manager
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Space Operations and Astronaut Training
Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC)
Münchener Straße 20, 82234 Weßling