After ten years in space, three gravity-assist maneuvers around earth, one gravity-assist maneuver around mars, five loops around the sun, and ten rendezvous maneuvers, the Rosetta space probe is closing in on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The Rosetta project was approved in 1993 to launch a spacecraft that would rendezvous with a comet, study it for two years while in orbit, and hopefully land a probe on the comet itself. Rosetta was launched in March 2004 by an Ariane-5 G+ rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
After a deep space hibernation for three years, Rosetta was awakened earlier this year, and after a final set of manuevers is now within sight of the comet. The European Space Agency (ESA) is now studying the comet, and preparing to deploy Rosetta’s lander probe Philae by November of this year.
How cool is that!? Check out more at: http://rosetta.esa.int/
(The featured image for this post “Philae Touchdown” is copyright ESA/ATG medialab)