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Deep Space Manoeuvre for Rosetta

Throughout this week, Rosetta is performing a large deep-space manoeuvre (around 800 m/s) to finally target Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The manoeuvre is split into four main velocity changes, with a last adjustment planned on 10 February.

The spacecraft will then go into hibernation between June 2011 and January 2014, due to the very limited power that will be available – which will not allow safe spacecraft operations. Almost all electrical systems are switched off, except for the thermal subsystem, on-board computer, radio receivers, command decoders and power supply. During this period, Rosetta should record its maximum distance from the Sun (about 800 000 000 km) and the Earth (about 1000 000 000 km).

In May 2014, 10 years after launch, Rosetta's thrusters will brake the spacecraft so that it can match Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's orbit. The spacecraft will arrive in the comet's vicinity a few weeks later. Over the following six months, it will edge closer to the black, dormant nucleus until it is only a few kilometres away. The way will then be clear for the exciting transition to global mapping, lander deployment and the continuing 'comet chase' toward the Sun.

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