October 1, 2008 — Vol. 1, Issue 9
View from the Outside
ESA's Rosetta Meets an Asteroid
The European Space Agency's (ESA) spacecraft Rosetta did its first fly-by of the asteroid 2867 Steins on September 5, 2008.
ESA considered the fly-by, a nominal target in Rosetta's eleven and a half year mission, a huge success that provided a wealth of information on smaller solar system bodies. Rosetta came as close as 800km to 2867 Steins, flying by at a speed of 8.6 km per second and performing maneuvers that pushed Rosetta to its design limits.
At a distance of roughly 360 million kilometers from Earth, Steins are small irregular shaped E-type asteroids that have never been observed directly by any interplanetary spacecraft before. The Steins asteroids are small in size and mainly orbit in the inner part of the asteroid belt situated between Mars and Jupiter. They are thought to be composed of silicate minerals with little or no iron content.
Read more about Rosetta.