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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/6/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Europe's Rosetta is first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet

All things come to those who wait. "After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the sun five times, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here,'" Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General, said in a statement. Europe's Rosetta has become the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet.

Exciting new images, taken from just 80 miles away shows boulders, craters and steep cliffs.

Exciting new images, taken from just 80 miles away shows boulders, craters and steep cliffs.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/6/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Rosetta, space probe, European Space Agency


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Rosetta trawled the galaxy for billions of miles across the solar system until it became the first probe to rendezvous with a comet on its journey around the sun.

"Thruster burn complete. Rosetta has arrived at comet 67P. We're in orbit!" announced the European Space Agency announced on Twitter.

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Rosetta fired its thrusters on its final approach to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, known as "Chury" Wednesday morning. Half an hour after the burn, scientists announced that the craft had entered into the orbit of the streaking comet.

"Europe's Rosetta is now the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet, a major highlight in exploring our origins. Discoveries can start."

Both Chury and the space probe now lie some 250 million miles from Earth, about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, according to the agency.

Exciting new images, taken from just 80 miles away shows boulders, craters and steep cliffs.

"Churyumov-Gerasimenko looks like it's been through the wars!" Dr. Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society in the U.K. says.

"With that odd looking 'neck', either we're looking at two objects that merged together or so much material has been lost in its many passes around the sun that the comet is a shadow of what it started out as.

"The pictures coming back so far look intriguing -- and imagine the kind of scenes we can expect when Philae lands this coming November," he said.

To get to its destination the spacecraft has covered more than three billion miles and as the comet hurtles towards the sun it will reach a speed of about 62,000 miles per hour.

The mission has now achieved the first of what it hopes will be a series of historic accomplishments. This coming November, mission controllers intend to place the robotic lander Philae on the surface - an unprecedented move.

Previous missions have performed comet fly-bys but Rosetta is different. This probe will follow the comet for more than a year, mapping and measuring how it changes as it is blasted by the sun's energy.

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