The Rosetta mission was launched in 2004 on its long journey to rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Hyder Consulting, through ESR Technology, has been involved in the development of a number of mechanical systems, both on the Rosetta Spacecraft and the Philae Lander.
ESR played a number of key supporting roles on the project, working closely with European Space Agency and various sub-system contractors and suppliers, on one of the most ambitious projects in over 40 years of space involvement. This was not the first time ESR had supported a comet chaser – it supported the Giotto mission to Halley’s Comet in the early 80s.
ESR’s contribution to Rosetta included advising, on a consultancy basis, on the appropriate lubrication for the mission, which included over a decade of deep-space cruising prior to operation. The role also covered lubrication, assembly and testing of four sub-assemblies on the Midas atomic force microscope instrument on Rosetta. EST also worked on conversion of motors on the Philae lander anchoring system for space compatibility and testing to verify performance as well as providing support for the spacecraft reaction wheel development and manufacture. Another aspect of the work was support of the Solar Array Drive Mechanism development.
A number of these systems played a critical role yesterday’s events as the spacecraft was manoeuvred and the lander released on its seven-hour descent to the comet surface.
The size of the comet – 4.1km across – means that there is very little gravitational pull, adding to the challenge of the landing.