After 10 years, Rosetta probe catches up with its comet destination


Today, the European Space Agency announced that its Rosetta mission successfully arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a 10-year journey. As the probe approached over the past several weeks, it provided greater detail on the oddly shaped comet, which was venting water as its orbit drew it closer to the Sun. Now, at just 100km from the comet’s surface, Rosetta is providing detailed images of a truly otherworldly landscape. 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko occupies an elliptical orbit that takes it from areas beyond Jupiter to somewhere in between Earth and Mars (currently, it’s midway between Jupiter and Mars). That presents a significant challenge, since any probe intended to track the comet must roughly match its orbit before approaching—or it would need a prohibitive volume of propellant to slow down. This explains Rosetta’s 10-year journey, which included four orbital flybys of Earth and Mars to put it in place for a gradual approach. Earlier this year, Rosetta successfully woke from hibernation , and it’s been imaging the comet during its approach. Early images indicated that 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has a two-lobed structure that some have compared to a rubber duck, albeit one with an unusually large head. The second lobe, corresponding to the duck’s body, is broader and more oblong. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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After 10 years, Rosetta probe catches up with its comet destination


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