Artist's impression of Rosetta shortly before hitting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on September 20, 2016. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab Description

Artist’s impression of Rosetta shortly before hitting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on September 20, 2016.
Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta comet orbiter is ready to take the fall – smack on top of the surface of Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta is set to complete its historic mission in a controlled descent to the surface of the comet on September 30, with the end of mission confirmation predicted to be within 20 minutes of 11:20 GMT (13:20 CEST).

Active area

Rosetta will conclude its mission in the Ma’at region – also located on the head of the ‘duck-shaped’ comet. “This is a particularly active area, with cavities that spew gas and dust into space,” explains Stephan Ulamec from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).

Lost and found Philae comet lander. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Lost and found Philae comet lander.
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The Rosetta orbiter is scheduled to land in the Ma'at region – a particularly active area. Scientific data will be acquired and photographs taken before its impact. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Nav-Cam.

Red circle indicates targeted crash site of the Rosetta orbiter, scheduled to land in the Ma’at region – a particularly active area. Scientific data will be acquired and photographs taken before its impact.
Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Nav-Cam.

Ulamec is the Philae project manager. The Philae landing craft touched down on the comet November 12, 2014. It was recently found after the probe made a series of three bounces – wedging itself in a grim and dark environment. The last contact with Philae took place on July 9, 2015.

Last picture show

Once Rosetta impacts on the comet, it will no longer have any means of communicating with Earth. Before that happens, however, scientists intend to descend toward the comet’s surface as slowly as possible in order to complete last measurements and acquire the last images.

Rosetta’s comet set down will mark the end of a mission that ventured into space on March 2, 2004.

Watch live: death of Rosetta

Details of how, when and where to follow the key moments online, starting with a review of the mission’s impressive haul of science highlights can be found below:

On September 29th: 12:30–15:30 GMT / 14:30–17:30 CEST, science highlights can be viewed by tuning into the livestream viewer at:

https://livestream.com/ESA/rosettagrandfinale

Check out this pre-crash video at:

http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2016/09/Visualising_Rosetta_s_descent

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