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Fly to Rosetta’s Comet with this New Interactive Visualization

Hang onto your space helmets.  With a few moves of the mouse, you can now follow the European Rosetta mission to its target comet with this interactive 3-D simulator. Go ahead and give it a click – it’s live! The new simulator was created by INOVE Space Models, the same group that gave us the 3-D solar system and Comet ISON interactive models.

Frame from the Rosetta Mission simulation shows the probe and comet when closest to the sun in late 2015. Credit: INOVE

Frame from the Rosetta Mission simulation shows the probe and comet when closest to the sun in late 2015. Credit: INOVE

The embedded version gives you a taste, so be sure to also check out the full-screen version. You can either click play to watch the mission from start to finish or you can drop it at key points by selecting from list of 11 highlights on the left side of your screen. A tick-tock at the bottom of the screen helps reference the time and what the spacecraft is doing at that moment in the video.

To interact with the model, simply click the screen. The action stops, allowing you to zoom in and out by scrolling; to change orbital viewpoints hold down the mouse button and drag. So easy!

Simulator view of Rosetta's first Earth flyby / gravity assist in March 2005. The probe flew by Earth three times and Mars once to conserve fuel and send it beyond the asteroid belt to rendezvous with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: INOVE

Simulator view of Rosetta’s first Earth flyby / gravity assist in March 2005. The probe flew by Earth three times and Mars once to conserve fuel and send it beyond the asteroid belt to rendezvous with Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: INOVE

I like the realism of the simulation, the attention paid to the planets’ variable spin rates and orbital periods and how well model illustrates the complicated maneuvers required to “fling” the probe to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. And I do mean fling. Watching the video from a face-on solar system perspective I was struck  by how Rosetta’s flight path resembled a spiral after repeated gravity assists by Mars and Earth.

Rosetta heads toward Comet C-G after its final Earth flyby in this face-on view. Credit: INOVE

Rosetta heads toward Comet C-G after its final Earth flyby in this face-on view. Credit: INOVE

Whether you’re a teacher or an armchair space enthusiast looking for an easy-to-understand, graphic way to find out how Rosetta will meet its target, I doubt you’ll find a more effective tool.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amber Doig April 3, 2014, 4:27 PM

    Thanks for sharing. This is fantastic!

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