The Rosetta spacecraft on its fueling stand.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of the European Space Agency
Rosetta Mission Page
The Rosetta Mission was suppose to launch in January 2003. Unfortunately, the launch had to be delayed! The good news is that Rosetta has a new launch date, February 26, 2004.
Rosetta will not meet up with comet Wirtanen as was originally planned. Instead, the spacecraft will fly towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (shortened as comet C-G)
After launch, Rosetta will then begin a ten year journey to the comet C-G. Rosetta will study this comet in detail, in hopes that this will lead to new scientific findings about all comets. Learning about comets helps us learn about our own solar system and about how the solar system originally formed.
The Rosetta spacecraft is actually made of two parts: an orbiter, which will approach the comet and then circle it, and a lander, which will touch down on the comet.
Rosetta has many complex scientific instruments that will help us find out about this comet's nucleus, coma and tail.
The Rosetta spacecraft is named after the Rosetta stone, a famous stone that allowed us to figure out what Egyptian hieroglyphics say.
Scientists are excited about new discoveries Rosetta might help make. This is the first comet mission where part of a spacecraft will actually touch down on a comet. Watch for news to come regarding the Rosetta Mission!
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