Special Issue : 12/03/2004
A scientific publication by SGF and NEODyS

A special issue of Tumbling Stone about Rosetta's launch
Latest News: Rosetta's asteroids

11 March 2004: today, about a week after the launch, the Rosetta Science Working Team has made the final selection of the asteroids that Rosetta will observe at close quarters during its journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Steins and Lutetia, two asteroids that lie in the asteroid belt...
Steins is relatively small, with a diameter of a few kilometres, and will be visited by Rosetta on 5 September 2008 at a distance of just over 1700 kilometres. This encounter will take place at a relatively low speed of about 9 kilometres per second during Rosetta's first excursion into the asteroid belt. Lutetia is a much bigger object, about 100 kilometres in diameter. Rosetta will pass within about 3000 kilometres on 10 July 2010 at a speed of 15 kilometres per second. This will be during Rosetta's second passage through the asteroid belt. Rosetta will obtain spectacular images as it flies by these primordial rocks. Its onboard instruments will provide information on the mass and density of the asteroids, thus telling us more about their composition, and will also measure their subsurface temperature and look for gas and dust around them.

The story of Rosetta's target name: A comet in the garden of Eden by Ettore Perozzi

What's in a surname? In the case of comets, a little history about the discovery circumstances.With a few notable exceptions, comets inherit the name of the firsts who spotted their appearance in the night sky. Yet Rosetta's target - comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko according to the new rules - tells a rather peculiar and lucky tale.. (click here for the full article)

About Rosetta launch

The launch overview
Rosetta's mission began at 08:17 CET (07:17 GMT) on the 2nd of March 2004, when a european Ariane lifted off from the Guiana Space Centre, in Kourou, French Guiana, starting a 790 million kilometres, 10 years long journey to rendezvous, orbit, and land on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko... read the article

In science, some things don't work out at a first try... by Angioletta Coradini

I love tropical countries, their climat, the sudden tropical rains, the sounds of unknown birds.
So I was kind of happy, arriving at Kourou, in French Guyana, to attend to Rosetta's launch, and for some hours, I almost forgot all about the mission's problems. And the stress of an event that plays with almost 30 years of our lives of researchers and that is not under our control. At this moment, it is 5 o'clock in the afternoon and in about 11 hours, at 4 o'clock of tomorrow morning, the first try out of the launch will take place... click for the full article

A photoreportage of the launch... click for the reportage

Other material:

Comets' FAQs, questions about comets click to read the FAQs

Editor: Nanni Riccobono
Assistant Editor, web master and graphics: Livia Giacomini (

Spaceguard Foundation (SGF) is a private, non profit scientific organization aimed at supporting and co-ordinating NEO researches in the world.
NEO Dynamic Site (NEODyS) is a service offered by the University of Pisa (Italy). It provides catalogues, computation of orbits, and projection of the behavior of NEOs in the future, in order to identify possible impacts in advance.
Our sponsors:
The Astronomic Observatory of Mallorca (OAM)