Rosetta reaches comet destination after decade long journey
ESA's Rosetta has become the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration.
After a decade-long journey, Rosetta and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko now lie 405 million kilometers from Earth, half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars.
Rosetta, traveling at nearly 55 000 kilometers per hour, will accompany the comet for over a year as they swing around the Sun and back out towards Jupiter again.
Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General said that after ten years, five months and four days of looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometers, it has finally reached its destination.
He added that Europe's Rosetta is now the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet, which is a major highlight in exploring our origins, and the discoveries can begin.
Since its launch in 2004, Rosetta had to make three gravity-assist flybys of Earth and one of Mars to help it on course to its rendezvous with the comet, which allowed it to pass by asteroids teins and Lutetia, obtaining unprecedented views and scientific data on these two objects.
(Posted on 07-08-2014)