Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Rosetta Spacecraft’s Flyby of Asteroid Lutetia

On 10 July, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft flew past 21 Lutetia, the largest asteroid ever visited by a satellite. This event was live webcasted here by ESA at 16:00 GMT.

Rosetta flew pass Lutetia at a relative speed of 54 000 km/hr, when both were located some 454 million km from Earth. As Lutetia is a major scientific target of Rosetta’s mission, most of the orbiter and lander instruments were kept on for flyby, studying the asteroid’s surface, dust environment, exosphere, magnetic field, mass and density.

The OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) camera system obtained visible-spectrum images before and at closest approach.

Rosetta launched in 2004, is on its way to a 2014 rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

For the complete time-line of events and more information visit ESA web page.

I just watched the webcast of this spectacular asteroid flyby and took a screenshot of one of the images that were sent back from Rosetta.

21 Asteroid Lutetia, OSIRIS image

I got too amazed while watching the live event that I forgot to make more screen-shots 😛 Meanwhile, here is a nice gif  of Asteroid Lutetia (courtesy of AsteroidWatch via Twitter)

Asteroid Lutetia (gif)

Can’t wait for the release of the hi-res photos by ESA 🙂



The flyby has been a spectacular success with Rosetta performing faultlessly. Closest approach took place at 18:10 CEST, at a distance of 3162 km 🙂

Full report and hi-res images from ESA website can now be viewed.

Below are my additional screen-shots during the replay of the webcast and other hi-res images of the Asteroid Lutetia.

Lutetia at closest approach

Leaving Lutetia

with Saturn on the background, cool! 🙂

first images before approach

Almost approaching Lutetia

zoom in with grooves and craters

looking for more details

Though I won’t be able to view the July 2010 eclipse from here, these pictures had already made my day 🙂 Haha. Staying up until 7am in the morning was all worth it 🙂 Thank you Rosetta for bringing us nice images of Lutetia.

Before, asteroids seemed to be the least interesting objects to observe in the night sky. They can be hardly seen with the naked eye and they do not undergo phases like the moon or the inner planets. But now, I just realized that asteroids are cool space rocks too 🙂 Watching the live streaming has made me excited into viewing an asteroid closer for the first time. The hours I have spent waiting for the hi-res images to come out were truly fulfilling, thus seeing them made me really overwhelmed with joy 🙂

The universe is indeed a wonderful place 😀


One response

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog. Keep it that way.

    August 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

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