Home > astronomy, space exploration > Rosetta makes rendezvous with comet

Rosetta makes rendezvous with comet

The spacecraft Rosetta has met up, after a decade-long journey, with a comet orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, becoming the first vessel to do so.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will have its Earthly companion for about the next year as it moves around our star.

“After ten years, five months and four days traveling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometers, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here’,” Jean-Jacques Dordain, the director-general of the European Space Agency, said in a statement.

In May Rosetta began the process of slowing and positioning itself for the rendezvous. The spacecraft, which is now about 100 kilometers from the comet, will now prepare for an effort to land a probe on the comet’s surface.

That probe, called Philae, is to be launched in mid-November.

Rosetta is likely to help scientists learn about the comet’s nucleus and coma.

Launched on March 2, 2004, Rosetta has flown by Earth three times, by Mars once, and by two asteroids on its way to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen in an image obtained Aug. 3 by the Rosetta spacecraft.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen in an image obtained Aug. 3 by the Rosetta spacecraft.

 

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