Asteroid Lutetia as viewed by the Rosetta spacecraft on July 10, 2010.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.
Rosetta Flyby of Asteroid Lutetia
Rosetta is a European space probe that was launched in March 2004. Its primary mission is to rendevous with and land on a comet in November 2014. Along the way it has flown by two asteroids. On July 10, 2010 it flew by an asteroid named Lutetia.
Lutetia is the largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft to date. This non-spherical asteroid has an average diameter of 96 km (60 miles). Rosetta sent some highly detailed images, as well lots of other data, back to Earth. The composition of Lutetia is a bit of a mystery; astronomers hope that some of Rosetta's data might shed some light on this puzzle.
Rosetta passed within 3,160 km (1,964 miles) of the asteroid while travelling at a speed of 15 km/s (9 miles/sec or more than 33,000 mph). Lutetia orbits in the main asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Previously Rosetta flew by asteroid Steins in September 2008. After its flyby of Lutetia, Rosetta is continuing on its long journey to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. If successful, Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to land on a comet.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Lutetia is a medium-sized asteroid which orbits in the main asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is officially known as "21 Lutetia" because it was the 21st asteroid discovered. The asteroid...more
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was discovered in 1969 by Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko. The comet orbits the Sun once every 6.57 years. Its orbit brings it closer to the Sun than Mars at the...more
Rosetta is a European space probe that was launched in March 2004. Its primary mission is to rendevous with and land on a comet in November 2014. Along the way it has flown by two asteroids. On July 1...more
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST is credited...more
Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the first mission to succeed...more
Apollo 12 survived a lightning strike during its launch on Nov. 14, 1969, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to the surface, while Richard Gordon...more
Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more