Summer fireworks on comet 67P
Abstract: During its two years mission around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft had the unique opportunity to follow closely a comet in the most active part of its orbit. Many studies have presented the typical features associated to the activity of the nucleus, such as localized dust and gas jets. Here we report on series of more energetic transient events observed during the three months surrounding the comet's perihelion passage in August 2015. We detected and characterized 34 outbursts with the Rosetta cameras, one every 2.4 nucleus rotation. We identified 3 main dust plume morphologies associated to these events: a narrow jet, a broad fan, and more complex plumes featuring both previous types together. These plumes are comparable in scale and temporal variation to what has been observed on other comets. We present a map of the outbursts source locations, and discuss the associated topography. We find that the spatial distribution sources on the nucleus correlates well with morphological region boundaries, especially in areas marked by steep scarps or cliffs. Outbursts occur either in the early morning or shortly after the local noon, indicating two potential processes: Morning outbursts may be triggered by thermal stresses linked to the rapid change of temperature, afternoon events are most likely related to the diurnal or seasonal heat wave reaching volatiles buried under the first surface layer. In addition, we propose that some events can be the result of a completely different mechanism, in which most of the dust is released upon the collapse of a cliff.
Pub.: 25 Sep '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Planning and implementation of the on-comet operations of the instrument SD2 onboard the lander Philae of Rosetta mission
Abstract: The lander Philae of the Rosetta mission landed on the surface of the comet 67 P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014. Among the specific subsystems and instruments carried on Philae, the sampling, drilling and distribution (SD2) subsystem had the role of providing in-situ operations devoted to soil drilling, sample collection, and their distribution to three scientific instruments. After landing, a first sequence of scientific activities was carried out, relying mainly on the energy stored in the lander primary battery. Due to the limited duration and the communication delay, these activities had to be carried out automatically, with a limited possibility of developing and uploading commands from the ground. Philae׳s landing was not nominal and SD2 was operated in unexpected conditions: the lander was not anchored to the soil and leant on the comet surface shakily. Nevertheless, one sampling procedure was attempted. This paper provides an overview of SD2 operation planning and on-comet operations, and analyses SD2 achievements during the first science sequence of Philae׳s on-comet operations.
Pub.: 03 Dec '15, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Philae locating and science support by robotic vision techniques
Abstract: The ROLIS, CIVA-P and OSIRIS instruments on-board the Philae lander and the Rosetta orbiter acquired high-resolution images during the lander׳s descent towards the targeted landing site Agilkia, during its unexpected rebounds and at the final landing site Abydos on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. We, exploited these images, using robotic vision techniques, to locate the first touchdown on the surface of the comet nucleus, to reconstruct the lander׳s 3D trajectory during the descent and at the beginning of the first rebound, and to create local digital terrain models and depth maps of Agilkia and Abydos sites. Using the ROLIS close-up images we could also determine the actual movements of the lander between the beginning and the end of the First Science Sequence and we propose a new lander׳s bubble movement command meant to increase the probability for a successful drilling during a hypothetical future Long Term Science phase.
Pub.: 14 Dec '15, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
ROSETTA Lander Philae – Touch-down Reconstruction
Abstract: The landing of the ROSETTA-mission lander Philae on November 12th 2014 on Comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was planned as a descent with passive landing and anchoring by harpoons at touch-down. Actually the lander was not fixed at touch-down to the ground due to failing harpoons. The lander internal damper was actuated at touch-down for 42.6 mm with a speed of 0.08 m/s while the lander touch-down speed was 1 m/s. The kinetic energy before touch-down was 50 J, 45 J were dissipated by the lander internal damper and by ground penetration at touch-down, and 5 J kinetic energy are left after touch-down (0.325 m/s speed). Most kinetic energy was dissipated by ground penetration (41 J) while only 4 J are dissipated by the lander internal damper. Based on these data, a value for a constant compressive soil-strength of less than 1.7 kPa is calculated.
Pub.: 23 Feb '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Rosetta Lander – Landing and operations on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
Abstract: The Rosetta Lander Philae is part of the ESA Rosetta Mission which reached comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after a 10 year cruise in August 2014. Since then, Rosetta has been studying both its nucleus and coma with instruments aboard the Orbiter. On November 12th, 2014 the Lander, Philae, was successfully delivered to the surface of the comet and operated for approximately 64 h after separation from the mother spacecraft. Since the active cold gas system aboard the Lander as well as the anchoring harpoons did not work, Philae bounced after the first touch-down at the planned landing site “Agilkia”. At the final landing site, “Abydos”, a modified First Scientific Sequence was performed. Due to the unexpectedly low illumination conditions and a lack of anchoring the sequence had to be adapted in order to minimize risk and maximize the scientific output. All ten instruments could be activated at least once, before Philae went into hibernation. In June 2015, the Lander contacted Rosetta again having survived successfully a long hibernation phase.
Pub.: 02 Dec '15, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Rosetta lander Philae: Flight dynamics analyses for landing site selection and post- landing operations
Abstract: On the 12th of November 2014, The Rosetta Lander Philae became the first spacecraft to softly land on a comet nucleus. Due to the double failure of the cold gas hold-down thruster and the anchoring harpoons that should have fixed Philae to the surface, it spent approximately two hours bouncing over the comet surface to finally come at rest one km away from its target site. Nevertheless it was operated during the 57 hours of its First Science Sequence. The FSS, performed with the two batteries, should have been followed by the Long Term Science Sequence but Philae was in a place not well illuminated and fell into hibernation. Yet, thanks to reducing distance to the Sun and to seasonal effect, it woke up at end of April and on 13th of June it contacted Rosetta again. To achieve this successful landing, an intense preparation work had been carried out mainly between August and November 2014 to select the targeted landing site and define the final landing trajectory. After the landing, the data collected during on-comet operations have been used to assess the final position and orientation of Philae, and to prepare the wake-up. This paper addresses the Flight Dynamics studies done in the scope of this landing preparation from Lander side, in close cooperation with the team at ESA, responsible for Rosetta, as well as for the reconstruction of the bouncing trajectory and orientation of the Lander after touchdown.
Pub.: 13 Apr '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
ROSETTA Lander Philae – Soil Strength Analysis
Abstract: The landing of Philae, the lander of ESA's ROSETTA-mission, on November 12th 2014 on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, was planned as a descent with passive landing activating a damper system and anchoring by harpoons at touch-down. The lander was not fixed to the ground at touch-down due to failing harpoons. The lander damper, however, was actuated for a length of 42.6 mm with a maximal speed of 0.08 m/s, while the lander speed was 1 m/s. Based on the damper data and a detailed mechanical model of Philae, an estimate can be made for the forces acting and the energy dissipated at touch-down inside the lander and the energy dissipated by ground penetration. The forces acting at ground penetration provide constraints on the mechanical strength of the soil. Two different soil models are investigated. Assuming constant compressive strength σ, one obtains σ ≈ 2 kPa. Assuming an increasing σs strength with penetration depth with results in σs = 3kPa/m fits the damper data best.
Pub.: 15 Jul '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Rosetta mission operations for landing
Abstract: The International Rosetta Mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) was launched on 2nd March 2004 on its 10 year journey to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and has reached it early August 2014. The main mission objectives were to perform close observations of the comet nucleus throughout its orbit around the Sun and deliver the lander Philae to its surface. This paper describers the activities at mission operations level that allowed the landing of Philae.
Pub.: 22 Jan '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
The Philae Lander: Science planning and operations
Abstract: Rosetta is an ambitious mission launched in March 2004 to study comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It is composed of a space probe (Rosetta) and the Philae Lander. The mission is a series of premieres: among others, first probe to escort a comet, first time a landing site is selected with short turnaround time, first time a lander has landed on a comet nucleus. In November 2014, once stabilized on the comet, Philae has performed its “First Science Sequence”. Philae’s aim was to perform detailed and innovative in-situ experiments on the comet’s surface to characterize the nucleus by performing mechanical, chemical and physical investigations on the comet surface. The main contribution to the Rosetta lander by the French space agency (CNES) is the Science Operation and Navigation Center (SONC) located in Toulouse. Among its tasks is the scheduling of the scientific activities of the 10 lander experiments and then to provide it to the Lander Control Center (LCC) located in DLR Cologne. The teams in charge of the Philae activity scheduling had to cope with considerable constraints in term of energy, data management, asynchronous processes and co-activities or exclusions between instruments. Moreover the comet itself, its environment and the landing conditions remained unknown until separation time. The landing site was selected once the operational sequence was already designed. This paper will explain the specific context of the Rosetta lander mission and all the constraints that the lander activity scheduling had to face to fulfill the scientific objectives specified for Philae. A specific tool was developed by CNES and used to design the complete sequence of activities on the comet with respect to all constraints. The baseline scenario for the lander operation will also be detailed as well as the sequence performed on the comet to highlight the difficulties and challenges that the operational team faced.
Pub.: 04 Feb '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Rosetta-Philae RF link, challenging communications from a comet
Abstract: The Rosetta spacecraft reached the vicinity of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014 and released the lander Philae for an in-situ analysis through 10 scientific instruments. The analysis of the lander RF link telemetry reveals major information on the lander orientation and its near environment during the 50-h mission on the comet. The Philae waking-up in April 2015 led to new RF contacts whose analysis gives among others assumptions on the RF equipment status, even if further and deeper investigation will be necessary.
Pub.: 05 Jan '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
The CONSERT operations planning process for the Rosetta mission
Abstract: The COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radio wave Transmission (CONSERT / Rosetta) has been designed to sound the interior of the comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This instrument consists of two parts: one onboard Rosetta and the other one onboard Philae. A good CONSERT science measurement sequence requires joint operations of both spacecrafts in a relevant geometry. The geometric constraints to be fulfilled involve the position and the orientation of both Rosetta and Philae. At the moment of planning the post-landing and long-term science operations for Rosetta instruments, the actual comet shape and the landing location remained largely unknown. In addition, the necessity of combining operations of Rosetta spacecraft and Philae spacecraft makes the planning process for CONSERT particularly complex.
Pub.: 16 Mar '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
The global surface composition of 67P/CG nucleus by Rosetta/VIRTIS. I) Prelanding mission phase
Abstract: From August to November 2014 the Rosetta orbiter has performed an extensive observation campaign aimed at the characterization of 67P/CG nucleus properties and to the selection of the Philae landing site. The campaign led to the production of a global map of the illuminated portion of 67P/CG nucleus. During this prelanding phase the comet’s heliocentric distance decreased from 3.62 to 2.93 AU while Rosetta was orbiting around the nucleus at distances between 100 to 10 km. VIRTIS-M, the Visible and InfraRed Thermal Imaging Spectrometer - Mapping channel [Coradini, A. and 44 colleagues, 2007. Virtis: An Imaging Spectrometer for the Rosetta Mission, Space Sci. Rev., 128, 529-559.] onboard the orbiter, has acquired 0.25-5.1 μm hyperspectral data of the entire illuminated surface, e.g. the north hemisphere and the equatorial regions, with spatial resolution between 2.5 and 25 m/pixel. I/F spectra have been corrected for thermal emission removal in the 3.5-5.1 μm range and for surface’s photometric response. The resulting reflectance spectra have been used to compute several Cometary Spectral Indicators (CSI): single scattering albedo at 0.55 μm, 0.5-0.8 μm and 1.0-2.5 μm spectral slopes, 3.2 μm organic material and 2.0 μm water ice band parameters (center, depth) with the aim to map their spatial distribution on the surface and to study their temporal variability as the nucleus moved towards the Sun. Indeed, throughout the investigated period, the nucleus surface shows a significant increase of the single scattering albedo along with a decrease of the 0.5-0.8 and 1.0-2.5 μm spectral slopes, indicating a flattening of the reflectance. We attribute the origin of this effect to the partial removal of the dust layer caused by the increased contribution of water sublimation to the gaseous activity as comet crossed the frost-line. The regions more active at the time of these observations, like Hapi in the neck/north pole area, appear brighter, bluer and richer in organic material than the rest of the large and small lobe of the nucleus. The parallel coordinates method [Inselberg, A., 1985. The Plane with Parallel Coordinates, Visual Computer, 1, 69-91.] has been used to identify associations between average values of the spectral indicators and the properties of the geomorphological units as defined by [Thomas, N., and 59 colleagues, 2015. The morphological diversity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Science, 347, 6220, aaa0440., El-Maarry M. R. and 54 colleagues, 2015. Regional surface morphology of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from Rosetta/OSIRIS images Astron. Astrophys., 583, A26.]. Three classes have been identified (smooth/active areas, dust covered areas and depressions), which can be clustered on the basis of the 3.2 μm organic material’s band depth, while consolidated terrains show a high variability of the spectral properties resulting being distributed across all three classes. These results show how the spectral variability of the nucleus surface is more variegated than the morphological classes and that 67P/CG surface properties are dynamical, changing with the heliocentric distance and with activity processes.
Pub.: 16 Mar '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Data Processing and Visualisation in the Rosetta Science Ground Segment
Abstract: Rosetta is the first space mission to rendez-vous with a comet. The spacecraft encountered its target 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 and currently escorts the comet through a complete activity cycle during perihelion passage. The Rosetta Science Ground Segment (RSGS) is in charge of planning and coordinating the observations carried out by the scientific instruments on board the Rosetta spacecraft.
Pub.: 23 Jun '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Rosetta science operations in support of the Philae mission
Abstract: The international Rosetta mission was launched on 2nd March 2004 and after its ten year journey, arrived at its target destination of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, during 2014. Following the January 2014 exit from a two and half year hibernation period, Rosetta approached and arrived at the comet in August 2014. In November 2014, the Philae lander was deployed from Rosetta onto the comet׳s surface after which the orbiter continued its approximately one and a half year comet escort phase.
Pub.: 16 Feb '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Performance of the mission critical Electrical Support System (ESS) which handled communications and data transfer between the Rosetta Orbiter and its Lander Philae while en route to and at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Abstract: The Electrical Support System (ESS), which was designed and built in Ireland, handled commands transmitted from the Rosetta spacecraft to the Command and Data Management System (CDMS) aboard its Lander Philae during a ten year Cruise Phase to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as well as at the comet itself. The busy Cruise Phase included three Earth flybys, a fly-by of Mars and visits to two asteroids, Steins and Lutetia. Data originating at the individual Lander experiments measured while en-route to and at the comet were also handled by the ESS which received and reformatted them prior to their transmission by Rosetta to Earth. Since the success of the Lander depended on the acquisition of scientific data, the ESS was defined by the European Space Agency to be Mission Critical Hardware. The electronic design of the ESS and its method of handling communications between the spacecraft and Philae are herein presented. The nominal performance of the ESS during the Cruise Phase and in the course of subsequent surface campaigns is described and the successful fulfilment of the brief of this subsystem to retrieve unique scientific data measured by the instruments of the Philae Lander demonstrated.
Pub.: 24 Dec '15, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
MIDAS: Lessons learned from the first spaceborne atomic force microscope
Abstract: The Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System (MIDAS) atomic force microscope (AFM) onboard the Rosetta orbiter was the first such instrument launched into space in 2004. Designed only a few years after the technique was invented, MIDAS is currently orbiting comet 67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko and producing the highest resolution 3D images of cometary dust ever made in situ. After more than a year of continuous operation much experience has been gained with this novel instrument. Coupled with operations of the Flight Spare and advances in terrestrial AFM a set of “lessons learned” has been produced, cumulating in recommendations for future spaceborne atomic force microscopes. The majority of the design could be reused as-is, or with incremental upgrades to include more modern components (e.g. the processor). Key additional recommendations are to incorporate an optical microscope to aid the search for particles and image registration, to include a variety of cantilevers (with different spring constants) and a variety of tip geometries.
Pub.: 21 Jan '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16
Ptolemy operations at the surface of a comet, from planning to reality
Abstract: Ptolemy is a Gas Chromatograph–Isotope Ratio–Mass Spectrometer (GC–IR–MS) aboard the Philae lander element of the Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Developed to determine the chemical and stable light isotopic composition of cometary material, Ptolemy was conceived as a highly flexible instrument able to accommodate changes in operational functionality via software modification. This was considered essential to allow for different modes of operation not only in response to rapid/unexpected changes and opportunities, but also to longer-term shifts in priorities as the overall mission plan (and indeed cometary science in general) changed during the decades from initial concept to landing. Against the backdrop of events of the Philae landing, this paper describes the methods of instrument operation and rational behind them used to achieve the Ptolemy scientific results during the period 12–14th November 2014. In particular we demonstrate the importance of a flexible modular approach to the instrument architecture enabling complex instrument operations, especially in a situation where the environment of exploration is effectively unknown and some of the engineering solutions were being tested in the field for the first time.
Pub.: 22 Jan '16, Pinned: 30 Sep '16