The Rolan lander approaching comet Wirtannen
This painting was produced to illustrate the Rosetta mission for DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG
High resolution mage
(copyright Astrium/Erik Viktor)
To be seen on ESA' science site
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Updated 29/12/2001
Movies & animations

The Rosetta cometary encounter mission

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to Comet Wirtanen almost 900 million km from Earth is one of the most ambitious scientific missions to be launched during the next decade.
Rosetta will be launched in January 2003 by an Ariane-5 from Kourou, French Guiana into the required escape hyperbola trajectory towards Mars.

A rendezvous with Comet Wirtanen is the destination of ESA's Rosetta mission. On its eight-year journey to the comet, the spacecraft will pass close to two asteroids, (Otawara and Siwa a Comets are believed to be the most primitive objects in the Solar System, and are particularly interesting to scientists because they hold many clues about our Sun and its planets. To gain enough
orbital energy to reach its target, one Mars and two Earth gravity assists will be required.
Rosetta will study the fabric of the comet and land a small probe (Rosetta Lander) on the comet's surface. Rosetta will study the nucleus of comet Wirtanen and its environment in great detail for a period of nearly 2 years, the near-nucleus phase starting at a heliocentric distance of about 3.25 AU, with far-observation activities leading ultimately to close observation (from about 1 km distance).

The data expected from Rosetta will provide a vital  insight into the origins of the Solar System itself.

The International Rosetta Mission was approved in November 1993 by ESA's Science Programme Committee as the Planetary Cornerstone Mission in ESA's long-term space science program.

The Rosetta operations will be carried out from ESA's Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt.

Rosetta in 3D!

View the Rosetta spacecraft and the lander from 360° as a Quicktime movie.


 1/ Rosetta spacecraft 360° (176kb).

 2/ Roland cometary probe and lander 360° (464kb)

The Rosetta Movies !
View the new Rosetta mission animations.

Digital paintings by Erik Viktor

These digital paintings are part of a first attempt of working with 3D sofware.
The artist creates the 3D models one by one. Once they are completed they are assembled in complex scenes with special light and camera effects. Some are produced with Photoshop and the airbrush tool.

The Rosetta Gallery

Picture 1; Rosetta arrives at Wirtanen. Note the piggyback Lander and the comet in the background.
Picture 2; The Rolan cometary lander separates from the orbiter.

Picture 3; Same as above.

Picture 4; Same as above.

Picture 5; The Rolan probe starts its slow approach of the tumbling celestial body.

Picture 6; Roland hovers above a large crater, seeking for a suitable spot to land.

Picture 7; Roland's retrorocket is fired before landing.

Picture 8; Roland on the surface of comet Wirtanen. Produced for DaimlerChrysler Aerospace.


The mission falls into several distinct phases

Major events
1) Launch from Kourou             
2) Mars gravity assist                
3) First Earth gravity assist       
4) Otawara Asteroid flyby          

5) Second Earth gravity assist   

6) Siwa Asteroid flyby                 

7) Rendezvous manoeuvre  w/ Wirtanen
!) Close-observation start

Nominal date
13 January 2003
26 August 2005
28 November 2005
11 July 2006
28 November 2007
24 July 2008
29 November 2011
22 August 2012

View Rosetta's Feet & Legs...!!

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Warning! This site and its content, videos, pictures, text are copyrighted. No copying without the author's written permission. © Erik Viktor 2001