Rosetta spacecraft makes historic comet rendezvous
The craft, launched back in 2004, rendezvoused with comet 67P/GC, ahead of a planned landing in November.
European Space Agency craft Rosetta has successfully arrived in comet 67P's orbit, after 10 years. The Rosetta mission tweeted the following update and image:
"Hello, Comet!" pic.twitter.com/mvFIxGWC8y
-- ESA Rosetta Mission (@ESA_Rosetta) August 6, 2014
The robotic craft was launched back in March 2004, with the goal of studying the snappily-named comet 67P/CG. Today Rosetta entered the gravitational pull of that comet ahead of a landing attempt scheduled for November.
That landing mission will see an explosive harpoon used to drop the mission's Philae lander onto the comet's surface. The lander will have to drill up to 20cm under the surface of 67P/CG. "Orbit entry will be triggered by a small but crucial thruster firing lasting just 6 min: 26 sec," the ESA said. "The burn will be monitored closely by the Rosetta Flight Control Team at ESOC."
Rosetta will make a series of triangular paths around the comet, each of which will take between three and four days to complete. It's hoped that data gleaned from the mission will tell us more about comets, and the history of the solar system.
You can find out more about Rosetta's arrival in the embedded video. It may not work on mobile, so you can check out the live streaming video from eurospaceagency at livestream.com.
Editors note, 11:15am, UK: This story has been updated. The embedded player above previously showed the orbit happening live.