ESA's comet chaser Rosetta will swing by Earth for the last time on 13 November to pick up energy and begin the final leg of its 10-year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA's European Space Operations Centre will host a media briefing on that day.
This will be the third Earth swingby, the last of Rosetta's four planetary gravity assists. Closest approach to Earth is expected at 08:45 CET (07:45 UT). The swingby will provide exactly the boost Rosetta needs to continue into the outer Solar System. The spacecraft is scheduled for a close encounter with asteroid 21 Lutetia in July next year, before it goes into hibernation early in 2011, only to wake up in early 2014 for approach to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
As the most primitive objects in the Solar System, the chemical composition of comets has not changed much since their formation. They preserve a record of the early Solar System.
When it reaches 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, Rosetta will be the first mission to orbit and deploy a lander on a comet. It will help to reconstruct the history of our neighbourhood in space.
More information: Last visit home for ESA's comet chaser Rosetta
Source: European Space Agency (news : web)
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