Rosetta space probe 4-axis handler

4-axis handler


COSIMA is a mass spectrometer on board the space probe ROSETTA. It collects dust from comets and analyses their chemical composition.

CEMEC developed the handling system which "holds" the sample carriers for COSIMA during the trip into space. Once there, it delivers them to the mass spectrometer and scans them with an accuracy of 3µm.
The handler also places the sample carriers into the storage port and transports them to the chemical analysis unit.

The Mission

Rosetta is designed to perform research on the origin of our solar system by analysing one of the oldest and most original celestial bodies, a comet. The mission consists of an orbiter and the landing unit.
Rosetta reached its target, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in April 2014. After 10 years in sleep mode, all of the units were woken up successfully.


Complete development of the concept, mechanical design, drive sizing, modelling, and position detection concept.


All mechanical systems incl. assembly, custom ball guides, custom spindles with a special coating, sample carriers out of gold, platinum and palladium.


Very small overall size and low weight, Ariane 5-B launch conditions (43 g from three directions, low drive power, cumulative positioning error of 3.0 µm.


Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Munich

Technical Data

Overall size:120 x120 x 250 mm³Length x width x height
Total weight:1250 gwithout housing
Drive power5 Wper axis
Accuracy:3 µmPositioning error
Operation in a vacuum10 x 1E-14 Torrdeep space vacuum
Launch specifications:43 g from all 3 directionsARIANE 5-B