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Watch Rosetta Rendezvous With A Comet, Live!

Illustration for article titled Watch Rosetta Rendezvous With A Comet, Live!

It's been a long, slow trek for Rosetta to catch up to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but, more than 10 years after it was launched, it will finally meet up with its intended target within the next 16 hours — and you can watch it as it does.


Image: Artist's conception of Rosetta's arrival, combining an actual picture of the comet from this week with Rosetta itself added in / Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The ESA's livestream will begin at 0800 GMT on Wednesday, August 6th (or, Wednesday at 1 a.m., Pacific time), and you can watch along with it here.


The ESA also put together this timeline of anticipated events, so that you can follow along with mission ops as they finally introduce Rosetta to the comet it's been pursuing for the last decade:

5 August

08:04/10:04BoT New Norcia tracking stationESA 35 m station, Australia
19:41/21:41EoT New Norcia tracking station
20:00/22:00BoT DSS-63 tracking stationNASA 70 m station Madrid

6 August

00:05/02:05EoT DSS-63
00:10/02:10BoT Malargüe tracking stationESA 35 m station, Argentina
02:41/04:41EoT Malargüe
02:50/04:50BoT DSS-15NASA 34 m station, Goldstone, USA
07:35/09:35EoT DSS-15
08:00/10:00BoT New Norcia tracking station AoS telemetry data flow (see below)

Rosetta slews into position for thruster burn
09:00:01/11:00:01Start: Comet Approach Trajectory – insertion thruster burnStart of orbit entry manoeuvre. Must wait 1-way light time for confirmation on ground
09:06:27/11:06:27End: thruster burnRosetta now on first leg of cometary orbit

Rosetta slews back to comet-pointing mode
09:22:30/11:22:30Start of thruster burn confirmed on ground
09:28:56/11:28:56End of thruster burn confirmed on ground
19:43/21:43EoT New Norcia
19:48/21:48BoT Malargüe tracking station


  • All times subject to change
  • BoT: Beginning of track
  • EoT: End of track
  • AoS: Acquisition of signal
  • LoS: Loss of signal
  • One-way signal time 6 August: 22 min 29 sec
  • Thruster burn set to run 6 min 26 sec

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Dang, I missed the livestream — but their website says that the rendezvous went well! :) Also they've released some really pretty pictures of the comet. These were actually taken a couple days ago, apparently, and are just being published now. They're already quite stunning, and vaguely delicious-looking, like a big frozen dessert...