ROSETTA - The first landing on a comet

About the project

Launched in 2004, Rosetta aims to be the first mission to land on a comet and explore it. Comets are considered to be one of the few virtually unaffected remnants from the formation of the solar system. Their exploration helps scientists to obtain information about the development of the planetary system.

Rosetta ©CNES/ill./DUCROS David, 2014

After its start in 2004, the Rosetta space probe was the first spacecraft to be launched into a comet orbit in August 2014. Built by the European Space Agency ESA and the German Aerospace Center DLR, the Philae lander – a three-legged space probe measuring just under a cubic meter and weighing 100 kilos – accompanied the Rosetta mission and landed on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. A total of ten instruments were on board the Philae lander, which carried out various physio-chemical measurements to explore the comet's surface. The results showed that the comet's surface consists mainly of ice, which is covered by a thin layer of dust.

Rosetta Camera ©Courtesy of CSEM SA

Our contribution

One instrument of the Philae lander was the CIVA camera system which was used to photograph and analyze the comet's surface. Due to the high cosmic radiation, materials in space are subject to special requirements. To protect the optical components inside the camera, the outer lens was therefore made of Suprasil from Heraeus. The material is characterized by its very high radiation resistance and durability and thus fulfilled the necessary requirements for use in the Philae lander.

Related links:

  • Official  website of project Rosetta
  •  Video of Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) about the CIVA camera system