“Comet-chaser” spacecraft launched


  • Judy Jacobs


The European Space Agency successfully launched its Rosetta spacecraft on 2 March, the beginning of what is hoped will be a 10-year journey that will provide information about the origins of the solar system, by placing a lander on the nucleus of comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta was launched from the ESAs facility at Kourou, French Guiana.

After three flybys of the Earth and one of Mars, Rosetta is scheduled, in mid-2011, to ignite its main engine for a major deep-space maneuver that will place it onto an intercept trajectory with the comet.