19/01/2004 9:00 am
ESA, image by AOES Medialab
Rosetta’s 11-year expedition began in March 2004, with an Ariane 5 launch from Kourou in French Guiana, and the spacecraft was then sent towards the outer Solar System. The long journey includes three gravity assists at Earth (2004, 2007, 2009), one at Mars (2007), and two asteroid encounters: (2867) Steins (2008) and (21) Lutetia (2010).
Rosetta will reach Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, and will be the first mission ever to orbit a comet’s nucleus and to deliver a lander, called Philae, on its surface.
Ensuring that the spacecraft survives the hazards of travelling through deep space for more than 12 years is one of the great challenges of the mission.
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