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Epic Journey of Comet Chasing Rosetta Spacecraft to Culminate in 2014

First Posted: Jan 15, 2014 03:58 PM EST
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After an epic ten year journey through space, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August 2014 where it will become the first space mission to orbit a comet, the first to attempt a landing on a comet's surface, and the first to follow a comet as it swings around the Sun.

The spacecraft launched in March 2004 and has since made 3 flybys of Earth and 1 of Mars, and passed by and imaged asteroids Steins and Lutetia. Operating on solar energy alone, in June 2011 Rosetta was placed into deep space hibernation as it cruised nearly 800 million kilometres from the warmth of the Sun, close to the orbit of Jupiter. On 20 January, Rosetta will wake up at 673 million kilometres from the Sun and about 9 million km from the comet, ready for the next leg of its epic adventure.

This short movie tells the story of Rosetta's journey through the Solar System so far, through the voices of some of the many people involved in this exciting mission.

After catching up with the comet Rosetta will slightly overtake and enter orbit from the 'front' of the comet as both the spacecraft and 67P/CG move along their orbits around the Sun. Rosetta will carry out a complex series of manoeuvres to reduce the separation between the spacecraft and comet from around 100 km to 25-30 km.

F

rom this close orbit, detailed mapping will allow scientists to determine the landing site for the mission's Philae lander. Immediately prior to the deployment of Philae in November, Rosetta will come to within just 2.5 km of the comet's nucleus.
This animation is not to scale; Rosetta's solar arrays span 32 m, and the comet is approximately 4 km wide.

Source: ESA

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