Press Release

Revised Venue UK Rosetta Media briefing

By SpaceRef Editor
January 10, 2003
Filed under , ,
Revised Venue UK Rosetta Media briefing

The Royal Society

6 Carlton House Terrace

London SW1Y 5AG

1.30pm, Monday 13th January 2003

‘Rosetta – rendezvous with a comet’

The European Space Agency’s pioneering Rosetta mission to comet Wirtanen is
scheduled for launch from Europe’s spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, in
January 2003.

Members of the media are cordially invited to attend a pre-launch Press
briefing at The Royal Society, 6 Carlton House Terrace, London, on Monday
13th January commencing at 1.30pm [registration from 1.00pm onwards].

The briefing by UK scientists, industrialists and representatives from ESA
and PPARC will provide an insight into the mission, its scientific
objectives and the UK’s contribution.


  • Dr. Gerhard Schwehm, ESA Rosetta Project Scientist
  • Mrs. Sue Horne, Head of Solar System and Space Science Group, PPARC
  • Dr. Ian Wright, Open University [Principal Investigator PTOLEMY experiment]
  • Dr. Chris Carr, Imperial College London [Joint Principal Investigator, Rosetta Plasma Consortium]
  • Dr. Mike Healy, Astrium Director of Earth Observation, Navigation and Science
  • Dr. John Zarnecki [Open University]

In addition representatives from other UK universities involved and the
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory will be available for comment and interview.

Media registration

To confirm your attendance please contact Julia Maddock at PPARC

Tel: 01793 442094


Video News Release [VNR] and Press Pack

A VNR and Press Pack will be available at the briefing.


Mission objectives

Rosetta will study the nucleus of comet Wirtanen and its environment in
unprecedented detail for a period of nearly two years as the comet journeys
towards the Sun, before finally landing a probe onto the comets surface of
frozen ice and dust to perform in-situ experiments. The scientific data will
shed new light on the origin of comets, the relationship between cometary
and interstellar material and its implications on the origin of our own
Solar System.

Launch and flight

An Ariane 5 is scheduled to launch the Rosetta spacecraft in January 2003
from Kourou, French Guiana. It will rendezvous with comet Wirtanen after an
eight-year flight, during which time it will inspect two asteroids [Otawara
and Siwa] at close quarters. To gain enough orbital energy to reach its
target, Rosetta will require one Mars and two Earth gravity assists. The
spacecraft will experience extended periods of hibernation during its long

UK science involvement

The UK has instruments on both the orbiter and lander, with involvement from
several university groups. In particular the PTOLEMY experiment onboard the
lander, for which The Open University has Principal Investigator status,
will decipher the complex interacting chemistry of light elements in the
comet. Imperial College London is one of six Principal Investigator groups
within the Rosetta Science Plasma Consortium [RPC] group of instruments on
the orbiter, providing the hardware that interfaces the plasma sensors with
the spacecraft. RPC will study the plasma environment of the comet,
particularly the interaction of the plasma with the dust and gas materials

UK industrial involvement

Several UK industrial companies have supplied critical components,
assemblies and software for the Rosetta spacecraft including Astrium [orbit
control and propulsion], Logica [onboard software autonomy], SciSys
[satellite control and operations system].

SpaceRef staff editor.