Artist impression of ESA's Rosetta spacecraft around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in 3D. The image can be viewed using stereoscopic glasses with red–green or red–blue filters. Copyright ESA / C. Carreau

Since its launch in 2004, the Rosetta probe has crossed the paths of the asteroids Steins and Lutetia. However, its main objective is to study the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This meeting will take place in 2014 : as early as August, a complete mapping of the comet 67P will be realized. On November 11, the lander Philae will land on the surface of the comet and pierce several holes to study its internal composition. This mission will last only a few days. The orbiter will accompany the comet in its course towards the Sun. The onboard instruments will perform analysis of the composition of its coma and its hair.

Rendez-vous with comet 67P/Churyumov-GerasimenkoS

Scientific Responsible : C. Mazelle

The involvement of France in the ROSETTA Mission

This space mission is carried out by the European Space Agency. The CNES coordinates the activities of the probe. Nothing less than nine French laboratories, joint research units of the Universities and the CNRS, participate in this mission. Among these laboratories is the IRAP.

The involvement of IRAP in the ROSETTA Mission

IRAP is deeply involved in this mission of the European Space Agency, one of the most ambitious missions in the history of space exploration, both in the instrumental part and the scientific program : participation in the orbiter payload (design of the electronic management of the spectrometer of neutral and ionized gas ROSINA (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis) , contribution to the development of the hyper-frequency sonar CONSERT and of the lander (tests of the X, alpha and protons spectrometer, APXS). More specifically, the ROSINA instrument will be responsible for determining the composition of the atmosphere and the ionosphere of the comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the velocities of the particles of ionized gas and the chemical reactions in which they are involved ; CONSERT (Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission) will probe the interior of the comet by studying the reflection and the scattering of radio waves by the core ; APXS (Alpha X-ray Spectrometer) will determine the chemical composition of the surface of the comet nucleus. Christian Mazelle, researcher at IRAP, is co-investigator of the ROSETTA mission. The other IRAP researchers involved in this mission are : Henri Rème, Professor Emeritus of the University of Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier, Lionel d'Uston and Jean-André Sauvaud, CNRS research directors ; Jeremie Lasue, astronomer .

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