This movie was generated from 600 individual still images captured by the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) on board Mars Express during the 8194th orbit on 27 May 2010 between 02:00 and 09:00 UTC (04:00-11:00 CEST) and were transmitted to Earth a few hours later via ESA’s 35m New Norcia deep space station in Australia.
The portion of the movie where the planet beneath the spacecraft was dark has been largely removed since no detail was visible.
The images show the spacecraft’s slow descent from high above the planet, speeding up as closest approach is passed and then slowing down again as the distance increases. Towards the start of the video, the giant Martian volcanoes can be seen followed by the beginning of the ice coverage around the South Pole as the spacecraft crosses over to the night side of the planet. Shortly after emerging back onto the day side of the planet, the beautiful North Pole can be observed, followed by the long climb away from the planet over the equator. Finally, at the end of the movie, the disk of Phobos can be seen crossing from top to bottom of the image.
Over the next six weeks, it will make two triangular-shaped trajectories in front of the comet, first at a distance of 62 miles and then at 31 miles.
At the same time they’ll be looking for a target site for the Philae lander.
Eventually, Rosetta will attempt a close, near-circular orbit at 18 miles and, depending on the activity of the comet, perhaps come even closer.
As many as five possible landing sites will be identified by late August, before the primary site is identified in mid-September. The final timeline for the sequence of events for deploying Philae – currently expected for 11 November – will be confirmed by the middle of October.
Text taken from here.
It’s not built for looks!
Specific Wiki Pages:
- Is the biggest ESA mission to date? Seems like it.. in terms of scope and audacity – it’s bold and beautiful :)
“After ten years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometres, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here’,” says Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.
“Europe’s Rosetta is now the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet, a major highlight in exploring our origins. Discoveries can start.”
Today saw the last of a series of ten rendezvous manoeuvres that began in May to adjust Rosetta’s speed and trajectory gradually to match those of the comet. If any of these manoeuvres had failed, the mission would have been lost, and the spacecraft would simply have flown by the comet.
“Today’s achievement is a result of a huge international endeavour spanning several decades,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
“We have come an extraordinarily long way since the mission concept was first discussed in the late 1970s and approved in 1993, and now we are ready to open a treasure chest of scientific discovery that is destined to rewrite the textbooks on comets for even more decades to come.”
There’s lots more fascinating information here.