|This is how the swing-by will look like, as seen when looking
'from the top' (i.e. from the North ecliptic pole) onto the plane of the
Earth's orbit. Rosetta will approach from the direction away from the sun.
In the Netherlands, the sun will set around 17h30m UT (18h30m CET). As
the spacecraft approaches, it will seem to fly to the west and around 22
h UT (23 h CET) disappear on the day side of the Earth.
It will swing around our planet and be swung towards Mars, where it will flyby on 26 Feb 2007, only to come back again to the Earth.
This is the first of four planet swing-bys (three times with Earth, once with Mars) that Rosetta will carry out in its long journey to its target comet, Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Swingbys are necessary to accelerate the spacecraft using the planet gravity, such that the orbital velocity of the comet can be eventually achieved. Rosetta will reach the comet nucleus in 2014, orbit it and deliver a Lander onto its surface.
(Click on the image for a larger version)