Rosetta Set To Launch Next Week
The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that the launch of the Rosetta comet chaser, due to take place on Feb. 26 is on track. Rosetta will be launched on board an Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana. ESA will be hoping that the launch will be successful, as Rosetta’s original journey had to be postponed. The initial launch of Rosetta had been scheduled to take place in January 2003.
This delay meant that the original mission’s target, Comet Wirtanen, was out of reach. The Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is the new target for the mission, which Rosetta will encounter in 2014 after a “billiard ball” journey through the solar system lasting 10 years. This will be the first mission to orbit and land on a comet.
The Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko has a nucleus about four kilometers wide. It orbits around the Sun every 6.6 years, between 186 million kilometers and 857 million kilometers from the Sun.