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Rosetta to end its days on the same comet as its Philae lander

September 30, 2016 - SPACE

The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to end Rosetta's days on the same icy comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where its Philae lander touched down on Nov 12, 2014.

The agency hopes for the best look yet at the comet from Rosetta as the end nears, just a year after the mission made history. It was the first to rendezvous with a comet, escort it as it orbited the Sun and deploy a lander to its surface. The agency wants the end of the mission to be gentle - a controlled crash into the surface of the duck-shaped body.

Rosetta launched on Mar 2, 2004, and caught up with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Aug 6, 2014, when the rock was travelling from deep in Space towards the Sun. It dropped Philae onto the surface on Nov 12, 2014. Philae captured and sent back some data during the descent, then landed in a location that lacked sunlight for powering its systems. It made contact briefly in Jul 2015, then went to sleep again.

Rosetta's expected slow descent will allow it to gather better data and pictures than Philae's.

Rosetta mission (ESA)

Celebrating a year at the comet (NASA JPL)

Historic Rosetta mission to end with crash into comet (Nature 4 Nov 2015)

Rosetta mission (ESA)

Date written/update: 2016-05-24