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Space and Physics

Rosetta Arrives at Comet After 10 Year Voyage

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Lisa Winter

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clockAug 6 2014, 17:20 UTC
1718 Rosetta Arrives at Comet After 10 Year Voyage
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

At around 09:30 UTC this morning, the Rosetta spacecraft completed its decade-long trek throughout the solar system as it finally reached its intended target of Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft will orbit the comet as it makes its way into the inner solar system, studying how the nucleus is affected by the heat of the Sun. 

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The comet is currently about 450 million kilometers (251 million miles) from Earth and is currently headed toward the inner solar system as part of its 6.45-year-long orbit. The orbit extends past Jupiter and comes roughly halfway between the orbits of Mars and Earth. Rosetta is currently studying the comet, trying to find the best place for the lander when it launches in November.

If you want to keep track of Rosetta throughout its journey and see how it has been navigating the solar system for the last decade, ESA has an interactive website that will show the past, present, and future position of the spacecraft.

Check out some of the images leading up to Rosetta’s rendezvous:

Image taken August 2 at a distance of 550 km. The long exposure helps illustrate the comet’s activity:

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Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Image taken August 3 at a distance of 285 km:

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Image taken August 3 at a distance of 285 km. The comet’s rotation gives a new perspective:

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

After the rendezvous was successful, ESA released these gorgeous close-up images today (August 6).

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The head of the comet can be seen at left, with the neck and body on the right. This image was taken a distance of only 120 km.

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

This is the base of the comet’s body, taken at a distance of 130 km:

Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

ESA streamed the rendezvous live, but if you weren’t able to tune in or want to relive the historical event, the video has been made available here:

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Watch live streaming video from eurospaceagency at livestream.com

Space and Physics
  • comet,

  • Rosetta spacecraft,

  • Comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko,

  • Rosetta

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