Press Release

Rosetta spacecraft meets asteroid Steins

By SpaceRef Editor
August 25, 2008
Filed under , ,
Rosetta spacecraft meets asteroid Steins

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will make a historic encounter with asteroid (2867) Steins on 5 September 2008. The doors of ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, will be open to the media as of 18:00 on 5 September to follow the fly-by events.

First images and results will be available for presentation to the media during a press conference which will be held at ESOC the following day, Saturday 6 September at 12:00 CEST. Steins is Rosetta’s first nominal scientific target. The spacecraft will rendezvous with the asteroid in the course of its first incursion into the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, while on its way to comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The study of asteroids is extremely important as they represent a sample of Solar System material at different stages of evolution – key to understanding the origin of our own planet and of our planetary neighbourhood.

The closest approach to Steins is due to take place on 5 September at 20:58 CEST (Central European Summer Time), from a distance of 800 km, during which the spacecraft will not be communicating with Earth. First ground contact with the spacecraft and announcement of successful fly-by will take place at 22:23 CEST. The first data and images collected by Rosetta will be sent to Earth throughout the night of 5 to 6 September and will undergo preliminary processing in the morning of 6 September. The first images will be made available for broadcasters via a special satellite feed on Saturday 6 September (details will be given on

To register for the events, please use the form linked from the right menu. The press conference on 6 September will also be streamed on the ESA web: at

Rosetta Steins Fly-By
Doors open to the media
5 September 2008, 18:00, Building K
Robert-Bosch Strasse 5, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany

  • 18:00 – Doors open
  • 18:00 – 19:00 Interview opportunities
  • 19:00 – 20:15 Buffet dinner
  • 20:15 – 20:30 The Steins Fly-By, Introduction by Paolo Ferri, Head of Solar and Planetary Missions Division (Mission Operations Dept.), ESA
  • The crucial role of Flight Dynamics, by Trevor Morley, Rosetta Flight Dynamics Team, ESA
  • 20:30 – 21:00 Live from Rosetta’s control room (loss of telemetry signal at 20:47)
  • 22:23 – First telemetry on ground: signal of successful fly-by
  • 23:00 – End of event

Rosetta Steins Fly-By Press Conference
6 September 2008, 12:00, Building D
Robert-Bosch Strasse 5, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany

  • 11:00 – Doors open
  • 12:00 – Welcome and introduction, by David Southwood, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, ESA
  • 12:10 – Rosetta: the status of the mission, by Gerhard Schwehm, Rosetta Mission Manager & Head of Solar System Science Operations Division, ESA
  • 12:20 – Rosetta and the study of asteroids, by Rita Schulz, Rosetta Project Scientist, ESA
  • 12:30 – The fly-by of Steins – stretching Rosetta’s limits, by Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager, ESA
  • 12:40 – Steins: first images and results, by Uwe Keller, OSIRIS camera Principal Investigator, Max Planck Institut fuer Sonnensystemforschung
  • 12:50 – ESA’s plans for asteroid and space debris monitoring, by Gaele Winters, Director of Operations and Infrastructure, ESA
  • 13:00 – Questions & Answers session
  • 13:20 – Interview opportunities
  • 15:00 – End of event

For more information:

Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin,
Head of Corporate Communication Office, ESA/ESOC
Phone: Tel: +49-(0)6151 902861

SpaceRef staff editor.