Rendezvous with a Planetoid

Heavy Metal Rock Set to Take the Stage

On its way to a 2014 rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, with NASA instruments aboard, will fly past asteroid Lutetia this Saturday, July 10. NEWEST IMAGES AND SPECTACULAR SIGHTS IN OUR IMAGE GALERY AT THE BOTTOM!
This artist's concept represents ESA's Rosetta spacecraft passing by an asteroid. On July 10, the Rosetta spacecraft will pass asteroid Lutetia at a minimum distance of 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) and a velocity of 15 kilometers (9 miles) per second. Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to visit an M-class (metal) asteroid.

This artist's concept represents ESA's Rosetta spacecraft passing by an asteroid. On July 10, the Rosetta spacecraft will pass asteroid Lutetia at a minimum distance of 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) and a velocity of 15 kilometers (9 miles) per second. Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to visit an M-class (metal) asteroid.

The instruments aboard Rosetta will record the first close-up image of a metal asteroid. They will also make measurements to help scientists derive the mass of the object, understand the properties of the asteroid's surface crust, record the solar wind in the vicinity and look for evidence of an atmosphere. The spacecraft will pass the asteroid at a minimum distance of 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) and at a velocity of 15 kilometers (9 miles) per second.

"Little is known about asteroid Lutetia other than it is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) wide," said Claudia Alexander, project scientist for the U.S. role in the Rosetta mission, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Allowing Rosetta's suite of science instruments to focus on this target of opportunity should greatly expand our knowledge of this huge space rock, while at the same time giving the mission's science instruments a real out-of-this-world workout."

Previous images of Lutetia were taken by ground-based telescopes and show only hints of the asteroid's shape. Lutetia will be the second asteroid to receive the full attention of Rosetta and its instruments. The spacecraft previously flew within 800 kilometers (500 miles) of asteroid Steins in September of 2008. The Lutetia flyby is the final scientific milestone for Rosetta before controllers put the spacecraft into hibernation early in 2011, only to wake up in early 2014 for approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

NASA has contributed an ultraviolet instrument (Alice); a plasma instrument (the Ion and Electron Sensor); a microwave instrument (Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter); and portions of the electronics package for the double focusing mass spectrometer of the Rosetta orbiter sensor for ion and neutral analysis (ROSINA), among other contributions to this international mission. NASA's Deep Space Network, managed by JPL, will be providing support for tracking and science operations.

One hundred and fifteen elementary school students will be at JPL during the flyby. The students will view close-up images of Lutetia, talk to the U.S. Rosetta project manager and participate in educational activities. The U.S. Rosetta project leaders hope to use this event as a kickoff of more coordinated activities with selected schools around the United States.

source: NASA
Pictures of the article
» print article
Search
Astronomy Software

Redshift Android

Redshift for Android

The award winning Astronomy Software Redshift for Android. » more

Redshift Pro

Redshift Pro - Astronomy for iOS

The most advanced Redshift app » more

Redshift Astronomy

Redshift - Astronomy for iOS

The award winning Astronomy Software Redshift for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. » more

Redshift Discover Astronomy deutsch

Redshift Compact - Discover Astronomy for iOS

The beginners version of the leading astronomy App Redshift » more

Redshift 8 Premium

Redshift 8 Premium - Download Edition (Multilingua Edition)

Explore the universe from your PC with the award-winning and professional planetarium software - Languages: German, English, French
 » more

Redshift 8 Premium DL deutsch/engl 2

Redshift 8 Premium - Update from older versions

Update from Redshift 7 or older to the current version of the professional planetarium software - Languages: German, English, French
 » more

Redshift 8 Compact

Redshift 8 Compact - Download Edition

The professional planetarium software for beginners » more