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The high resolution images provided by the Cassini spacecraft have uncovered a surprising shape for two small Saturn satellites located inside the rings of the giant planet. An international team, leaded by Sébastien Charnoz and André Brahic from the Service d'Astrophysique (SAp) of EA/DSM/DAPNIA and laboratoire AIM (CNRS, Université Paris Diderot), have just shown that the Pan and Atlas satellites, two small moons with only a 30 km radius, are circled at their equator by an important padding making them looking like "flying saucers".
Rosetta has a complex trajectory which includes four gravity assist maneuvers (3 x Earth, 1 x Mars) before finally reaching the comet. On arrival at 67P Rosetta will enter orbit around the comet and stay with it as it journeys in towards the Sun.
The Rosetta spacecraft flew by asteroid Steins which has an effective diameter of approx 5 km, at 18:58 UTC on 5 September 2008 at a distance of about 800 km on its way to RV with asteroid 67P. The Steins fly-by campaign ended on 4 October 2008 at which time the spacecraft was configured to low activity cruise.
…mysterious and immensely disappointing electronic cut-off of the spacecraft's only Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC) ... some nine minutes (and more than 3000 miles) BEFORE the closest approach of the spacecraft to the asteroid!
"The software switched off automatically," said Gerhard Schwehm, the Mission Manager and head of Solar Systems Science Operations at ESA. "The camera has some software limits and we'll analyze why this happened later ...."
This completely unexpected (and hugely disappointing) "software glitch" resulted in a loss of ALL the highest-resolution imaging data from Rosetta (including high-resolution multi-spectral and color views) of "2867 Steins" -- leaving only the five-times-lower-resolution Wide Angle Camera (WAC) data for visual analysis.
Both cameras (narrow-angle and wide-angle) have been operating during the fly-by, with the NAC autonomously switching to safe mode at about 9 minutes before closest approach.
18:28 - High-gain antenna stops tracking the Earth - loss of telemetry signal.
18:30 - Fault detection, isolation and recovery (FDIR) disabled on-board.
18:36 - Phase angle zero crossing.
18:38 - Closest approach (CA).
19:38 - End of asteroid closed loop tracking.
19:48 - Fault detection, isolation and recovery (FDIR) re-enabled on-board.
19:54 - High-gain antenna resumes tracking the Earth (acquisition of telemetry signal on the ground).
Rosetta Flies By "Something" Very Strange ....
In other words, they got INCREDIBLY lucky ....
The ESA designers of the complete 10-year Rosetta Mission Plan had access to "secret documents" (from sources "in the know ..."), regarding the true, artificial nature of "2867 Steins" -- and thus based their entire 10-year "secret mission" on the early rendezvous with Steins ... with the much-publicized "later comet rendezvous" actually being just the "cover story" ....
It would be far easier NOT to suspect all of this at this point ... were it not for the fact that the mission's overall, official name is directly taken from NASA's own covert ritual "Masonic Playbook!"
For those needing a bit of a refresher vis a vis "Rosetta," here's a reference from one of the ESA mission news reports, back in 2004--