The Rosetta mission began atop of an Ariane 5G rocket, launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou on March 2, 2004.
This ESA-led mission is the first designed to orbit and land on a comet. It consists of an orbiter, carrying 11 science experiments, and a lander, called ‘Philae’, carrying 10 additional instruments, for the most detailed study of a comet ever attempted.
Travelling a distance of 800 million kilometres (500 million miles) from the Sun, the spacecraft took in an orbit of Jupiter, passing by Earth three times and Mars once, while also flying past two asteroids.
June of 2011, Rosetta was switched to its hibernation mode, protecting its vital payloads from the coldness of deep space.
The spacecraft were then awoken from their slumber, with the help of a superb “Wake up Rosetta”public outreach campaign by ESA – along with the creation of highly acclaimed cartoon animations involving the spacecraft by designdata.de.
The duo finally arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the summer – catching up with the heavenly body as it moves farther into the inner reaches of our Solar System.
Rosetta conducted a final burn, ahead of a 22 minute wait for the telemetry to travel back to Earth, to confirm the required rendezvous procedures.
Philae Landing – Follow *LIVE Coverage here*