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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 190

Date:- 6 March 2005

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Rosetta performs ESA's closest-ever Earth fly-by
Illustrations with thank to ESA

ON Friday, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft performed it's first of four planetary swing-bys on it's way to rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The planetary fly-bys, 3 around the Earth and one around Mars, are used to help propel the spacecraft further and further out into space. At closest approach, at 22:09:14 GMT, Rosetta passed above the Pacific Ocean just west of Mexico at an altitude of 1954.74km and a velocity relative to the Earth of 38 000kph.

In this particular fly-by, scientists are using the event to help calibrate the spacecraft's instruments, and will shortly be using the moon to test Rosetta's ability to track such bodies as it flies past. The passage through the Earth-Moon system allowed ground controllers to test Rosetta's 'asteroid fly-by mode' (AFM) using the Moon as a 'fake' asteroid, rehearsing the fly-bys of asteroids Steins and Lutetia due in 2008 and 2010 respectively. The AFM test started at 23:01 GMT and ran for nine minutes during which the two onboard navigation cameras successfully tracked the Moon, allowing Rosetta's attitude to be automatically adjusted.

Rosetta is scheduled to fly past two asteroids later in its' journey, Steins in September 2008 and Lutetia in July 2010, when this tracking mode will be used to keep the spacecraft's instruments locked on-target.

Although Rosetta has now passed through it's closest approach, 1900km at 23:10 GMT on Friday, it will still be visible through binoculars or a telescope for a few days. The European Space Agency has even issued a competition for the best amateur photographs of the spacecraft taken between now and the 11 March.

ESA told us "Rosetta is the first mission designed to both orbit and land on a comet, and consists of an orbiter and a lander. 

The spacecraft carries 11 scientific experiments and will be the first mission to undertake long-term exploration of a comet at close quarters. After entering orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, the spacecraft will release a small lander onto the icy nucleus. Rosetta will orbit the comet for about a year as it heads towards the Sun, remaining in orbit for another half-year past perihelion (closest approach to the Sun). 

Comets hold essential information about the origin of our Solar System because they are the most primitive objects in the Solar System and their chemical composition has changed little since their formation.  By orbiting and landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta will help us reconstruct the history of our own neighbourhood in space. We are all looking forward to the results of this mission.

Rosetta's unique instruments, such as its ultraviolet light instrument ALICE, should be able to make critical contributions what we now know after the American, NASA, 4 July 2005 mission called
"Deep Impact"."

Log on to Southport Reporter next week for a special report on the fly-by.

United Utilities & Liverpool Culture Company

THE Liverpool Culture Company on Friday 4 March 2005 announced that one of the North West's largest companies, United Utilities, will be its official community partner for European Capital of Culture 2008.

Under the agreement, the utility company will invest in the city's acclaimed Creative Communities Programme. 

The four-year deal, worth up to £2 million, will enable the Culture Company to expand its community engagement in the run up to 2008. It also provides for joint working in marketing events and festivals. 

Councillor Mike Storey, Leader of Liverpool city council, said:- "United Utilities is one of the North West's biggest companies. Its support for Liverpool and Capital of Culture is a huge vote of confidence in Liverpool and the city's cultural renaissance. It shows our ambitions for 2008 are well founded and enjoy the support of the business community.

We want to stage the best ever Capital of Culture Europe has ever seen in 2008 and our deal with United Utilities secures important extra funding from the private sector. Delivering the '08 programme is a major task but like a jigsaw, piece by piece is coming together."

John Roberts CBE, United Utilities' chief executive, said:- "Liverpool is a fantastic city right at the heart of United Utilities' North West roots. As a Merseysider, I'm very excited that we will be helping make this the best European Capital of Culture ever.

Liverpool is a city now reclaiming its heritage. Over the last few years its transformation has been astounding and we've already played a part in that, a decade of environmental investment has literally breathed new life back into the Mersey, improving the quality of life for the community.

Our support as the Official Community Partner is a natural continuation of our investment in the city's renewal. We will be helping make the celebrations accessible and affordable for everyone in Liverpool and the region.

Every day, by the very nature of the services we provide, we touch the lives of people right across the North West. So it makes sense for us to build on this role to help Liverpool make this a truly regional event, spreading the celebrations beyond the city limits."

United Utilities will be working with the Liverpool Culture Company over the coming months to agree the details of the sponsorship and how the community will be able to get involved.

As well as cash sponsorship the partnership deal includes value in kind support from United Utilities' such as engineering and utility expertise.

There are four levels of sponsorship available to support the '08 Culture programme including Partner, Supporter, Supplier and Friend. Potential sponsors can contribute £20,000 through to in excess of £2million.

Jason Harborow, Chief Operating Officer of the Liverpool Culture Company, said:- "I'm delighted we've secured the backing of United Utilities and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship. Along with Hill Dickinson the city is securing a high quality portfolio of official sponsors who will help us deliver the best ever Capital of Culture. 

To have their support in our Creative Community programme will enable thousands of Liverpool people to participate in culture - many for the first time - and help strengthen the cultural fabric of the city."

Sir David Henshaw, city council Chief Executive, said:- "Clearly we will need the support of both the private and the public sector to deliver our vision for '08. To achieve two big money deals in such a short space of time is a major boost for our plans but there is still work to do to secure even more partners."

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