Rosetta Makes Visual Contact with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
In March of 2004 the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Rosetta spacecraft and began its mission to become the first man-made object to land on a comet. on August 6, 2014 Rosetta made visual contact with the comet and prepared for rendezvous and insertion into orbit. Rosetta will stabilize its orbit in the coming weeks and perform in-depth studies of the object. While orbiting it will search for a suitable landing site for its Philae lander. in November the lander will approach the comet slowly and use harpoons to anchor itself on the surface. From there it will conduct tests and take samples of the comet’s nucleus, the first spacecraft to ever take this detailed a look at a comet. In 2005 NASA’s Deep Impact probe launched its impactor module into the comet Tempel 1 to eject material from the surface for the spacecraft to analyze. While this mission provided a wealth of information about the comet, the Rosetta Mission will offer a much more refined approach.
The Rosetta Orbiter currently sits less than 200 km from the comet’s surface and will close that gap even more as it prepares to launch the lander module. For more information, visit http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta