European scientists announced the historic rendezvous on Wednesday between a comet and the
Scientists and spectators at ESA's mission control in Darmstadt,
The goal of the mission is to orbit 67P from a distance of about 100 kilometres (60 miles) and observe the giant ball of dust and ice as it hurtles toward the sun. If all goes according to plan,
Scientists hope this will help them learn more about the origins of comets, stars and planets.
Orbital entry was triggered by a small firing of her thrusters, lasting just six minutes and 26 seconds, starting at
"This burn will tip
Top officials from ESA will be were at mission control in Darmstadt,
The "pyramidal" orbits will put the craft at a height of about 100 kilometres (60 miles) above the comet, said Sylvain Lodiot,
The arrival will mark a key moment of the boldest project ever undertaken by ESA—a
Comets are believed by astrophysicists to be ancient ice and dust left from the building of the solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. This cosmic rubble is the oldest, least touched material in our stellar neighbourhood.
Understanding its chemical ID identity and physical composition will give insights into how the planets coalesced after the sun flared into light, it is hoped.
t could also determine the fate of a theory called "pan-spermia," which suggests comets, by smashing into the infant Earth, sowed our home with water and precious organic molecules, providing us with a kickstart for life.
Getting there has been an unprecedented navigational exploit. Launched in
It then entered a 31-month hibernation as light from the distant Sun became too weak for its solar panels. That period ended in January with a wake-up call sent from Earth.
The spacecraft is named after the famous stone, now in the
The four-kilometre comet is named after two Ukrainian astronomers who first spotted it in 1969.
(FRANCE24 with AP and AFP)
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