Rosetta is the name of the European Space Agency mission dedicated to the exploration of small bodies in our Solar System. It was launched on 2 March 2004 and during its long journey has successfully performed fly-bys of the Steins asteroid in 2008 and the Lutetia asteroid in 2010. Its primary objective is to carry out detailed investigations on the characteristics of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, orbit of which was achieved on 6 August 2014.
After a long period of "hibernation" begun in June 2011 and completed in January 2014, Rosetta then successfully reached its destination, becoming the first space mission to "meet" a comet.
The Rosetta probe is composed of an orbiter - where the sensors are located for remote sensing experiments - and a lander, called Philae, that on 12 November 2014 landed - for the first time in the history of space exploration - on the surface of the comet. Then it will carry out a series of measurements on the physical characteristics of the surface and investigate the internal structure of the core. The main scientific objective of the mission is to gain understanding of the origin of comets and the relationship between their composition and interstellar matter as fundamental elements for tracing the origins of the Solar System.
Rosetta is an ESA mission that has received help from EU member states and NASA. The Philae lander was developed by an international consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI. Italian industries involved in the project include the Finmeccanica Group companies Selex ES, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space.
Telespazio, through its subsidiary Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, has been involved in the Rosetta programme since the late 1990s, when the ESOC began mission planning. The first agreement made was for the development of the simulator for the Rosetta orbiter, made along with the two simulators for the MarsExpress and VenusExpress missions. Since its delivery to the ESOC in Darmstadt, the simulator has been used to support control activities during the various phases of the mission: the first phase of launch and LEOP, during flight, hibernation, to the approach and orbit around the comet. The simulation campaigns have been led by experts of Telespazio VEGA Deutschland.
Telespazio experts are part of the ESOC Flight Control and Flight Dynamics teams, ICT Engineering, Ground Station as well as Administration teams and have supported all stages of Rosetta's journey and its approach to and orbiting around the comet. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has also developed the Rosetta Mission Control System and the Mission Planning System, which is used to schedule the many different tasks of the spacecraft coming from Flight Dynamics, the scientists and the Flight Control Team.
The most exciting moment of the whole mission will be the comet landing of the Philae lander. Telespazio VEGA Deutschland has been supporting the German Space Agency (DLR) in Cologne in various mission phases of Philae, such as in the project management, development, modelling and validation of the Philae simulator, in Ground Segment development, 3D animations of both orbiter and lander as well as Ground Control during the Philae commissioning phase.
Today, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland is providing the Technical Manager of the Philae mission to DLR, and is thus also contributing to the final act of this space adventure.