Rosetta space probe set to catch up with comet

  • AP, Darmstadt
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 06, 2014 13:44 IST

A handout image released by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows the nucleus of Rosetta's target comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko seen from a distance of 1950 km on July 29, 2014. One pixel corresponds to about 37 m in this narrow-angle camera view. The bright neck between the two lobes of the nucleus is becoming more and more distinct. (AFP photo)


A mission to land the first space probe on a comet reaches a major milestone when the unmanned Rosetta spacecraft finally catches up with its quarry on Wednesday.

It's a hotly anticipated rendezvous: Rosetta flew into space more than a decade ago and had to perform a series of complex maneuvers to gain enough speed to chase down comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on its orbit around the sun.

The European Space Agency says Rosetta will spend about two years traveling alongside 67P and closely observing the comet. If all goes according to plan the probe will also drop a small landing craft onto the comet's icy surface in November.

Scientists hope the mission will reveal more about the origins of comets and other celestial bodies.

 

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