Rosetta 1 – Kardashian 0. How we (almost) broke the internet

Short thesis

12 November 2014 saw the iconic landing of the European Space Agency ESA's Rosetta mission on comet 67p ‘chury’, at 600 million kilometres distance from Earth. In this session, the people who have been in the driving seat of the Rosetta mission social media campaign as well as the scientists responsible for comet orbiter (Rosetta) and lander (Philae) will share some unique insights with you.


12 November 2014 saw the iconic landing of humankind on comet 67p ‘chury’, at 600 million kilometres distance from Earth. Our heroes were – and still are - two robotic probes, a mothership called Rosetta and a small comet lander, named Philae.  The very same day celebrity Kim Kardashian tried to #BreakTheInternet, but Twitter statistics quickly showed that people were much more interested in #CometLanding - an epic win for (Space) Science!

The European Space Agency ESA's Rosetta mission may be considered one of the craziest space endeavours ever undertaken: Conceived and approved in the 90ies, implemented over the turn of the millennium, launched in 2004, followed by a ten year journey over 6.4 billion kilometres with arrival and finally landing on a comet. But the mission is far from being over: 13 August 2015 will be the date of Rosetta's closest approach to the sun ('perihelion') and will show the comet in its most active and thus scientifically most interesting phase for Rosetta.

ESA Rosetta Flight Operations director Andrea Accomazzo will tell us the story of Rosetta from a scientific and engineering angle while Koen Geurts, DLR German Aerospace Center's Philae Lander technical manager, will outline the complex and critical process of landing on a moving target that has almost no gravity and was – and still is - full of (scientific) surprises.

Equally important is what Emily Baldwin and Karin Ranero Celius will share with us. They represent a small, but very important part of the Communications team behind the mission and will explain how the exceptional use of social media and other means of digital and visual communication, the unique #CometLanding Twitter conversation of @ESA_Rosetta and @Philae2014 did not only help convey complex space science to a larger public (and how it topped Kardashian ...), but also how personalising Rosetta and Philae actually catered for a lot of engagement with the digital society. Marco Trovatello, who works for ESA’s Communication Department, will moderate the session.