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Solar System Exploration
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Rosetta Mission to Asteroids Rosetta Mission to Comets

Goals: The European Space Agency's Rosetta is designed to make a detailed study of a comet from orbit and from its surface, but it's 10-year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has provided opportunities to fly by two main belt asteroids.

Accomplishments: Rosetta made the first close observations of an E-type asteroid during its asteroid Steins flyby in 2008. The small class of asteroids are rare and are mostly found in the inner part of the main asteroid belt. They may be pieces of larger asteroids. The spacecraft's 2010 flyby of asteroid 21 Lutetia returned the first close-up images of the asteroid revealing it as a battered survivor from the violent birth of our solar system.


Key Dates
2 Mar 2004:  Launch (07:17 UT)
5 Sep 2008:  Asteroid Steins Flyby
10 Jul 2010:  Asteroid Lutetia Flyby
Aug 2014:  Global Mapping and Escort Mission Begins
6 Aug 2014:  Rosetta's Rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
12 Nov 2014:  Philae Lands on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (16:00 UTC (8 a.m. PST and 11 a.m. EST))
Aug 2015:  Spacecraft & Comet Closest Approach to Sun
Status: In Flight
Fast Facts
Rosetta Facts Rosetta is named for the Rosetta Stone (right), an ancient script that provided the key to deconding Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Rosetta was initially going to visit another comet, but a launch delay caused it to miss its rendezvous window.

The team plans to fly past one asteroid during Rosetta's complex 10-year journey to the comet.

Rosetta gets its name from the famous Rosetta stone that led to the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics almost 200 years ago.

The lander is named for Philae, an island in the river Nile on which an obelisk was found that gave historians the final clues to decipher the Rosetta stone.

Rosetta is the most detailed study of a comet planned to date.
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Last Updated: 13 Nov 2014