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Rosetta begins historic comet orbit

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 06.08.2014 15:26
Europe's Rosetta space probe, with a Polish measuring device on board, has finally begun orbiting comet 67P Churimov-Gerasimenko, ten years after it was launched from Earth.

Experts follow the flight path of the robotic space probe 'Rosetta' in the ESA control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, 06 August 2014. Rosetta reached the comet '67P/Tschurjumow-Gerassimenko' in the course of the day after ten years of flying through space. Rosetta orbiting the comet marks the start of the exciting finale of a roughly 6 billion km trip to the comet, which is supposed to culminate with the space probe landing on the comet: photo - EPA/BORIS ROESSLER

"After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometres, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here'," says Jean-Jacques Dordain, the European Space Agency's Director General.

Rosetta makes history in being the first probe to rendezvous with a comet.

A handout image made available by the European Space Agency (ESA) on 06 August 2014 shows an image of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 03 August 2014 from a distance of 285 km.: photo - EPA/ESA /

Launched in March 2004 from a base in French Guyana, Rosetta has travelled past Mars and two asteroids, covering 6 billion kilometres in space.

The probe is following a complicated trajectory which will have to be several times corrected, as the comet is small, measuring about four by four kilometres, and so its gravitational pull is light.

This November, Rosetta is to send to the comet's surface a lander named Philae, equipped with Polish-made measuring apparatus which will gather data on the nucleus of the comet.

The instrument was constructed at the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The whole operation is to end in December. (ek/pg)

tags: space
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