The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission got front page coverage in November 2014, when it successfully put a small Lander (Philae) on the surface of a comet, following an epic journey of the mother spacecraft, which had travelled through space for 10 years, covering 6.4 billion kilometres, going round the Sun five times, flying past the Earth three times and Mars once, to find a lump of rock the size of a small town just inside the orbit of Jupiter. This lecture will tell the amazing story of this project, which is due to end later this year. It will start with an outline of the development of the spacecraft, before describing the flight itself and what was involved in homing in precisely on the comet. The lecture will conclude by discussing some of the initial science results with respect to the most primitive objects in our Solar System - COMETS!
John Ellwood, European Space Agency
John Ellwood worked for the European Space Agency in the Netherlands and Paris for over 30 years. Having started as a structural engineer on various ESA spacecraft, including Europe's contribution to the Hubble Space Telescope, he became Project Manager of the Cluster mission which is a small fleet of four spacecraft studying the Earth's magnetosphere, launched in 2000. He then took the lead of the Rosetta mission, which he headed until its successful launch in 2004 and its long journey began. After Rosetta, he was Project Manager of the Automatic Transfer Vehicle, Jules Verne (launched in 2008) which was a ‘space bus’ weighing twenty tons, designed to take fuel and goods to the International Space Station as part of ESA's contribution to this international project. He finished his career by heading up all ESA's science spacecraft projects until his retirement in 2012. He now has various consulting roles for ESA and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).