Image: ESA/ATG medialab
Artist's impression of Rosetta shortly before hitting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 30 September 2016.
Rosetta is set to complete its historic mission in a controlled descent to the surface of its comet on 30 September, with the end of mission confirmation predicted to be within 20 minutes of 11:20 GMT (13:20 CEST).
Details of how, when and where to follow the key moments online, starting with a review of the mission’s impressive haul of science highlights on 29 September, can be found here.
In November 1993, the International Rosetta Mission was approved as a Cornerstone Mission in ESA's Horizons 2000 Science Programme. Scientists and engineers from all over Europe and the United States built an orbiter and a lander for this unique expedition to unravel the secrets of a mysterious 'mini' ice world – a comet. The adventure began March 2004, when a European Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from Kourou in French Guiana.
During a circuitous ten-year trek across the Solar System, Rosetta crossed the asteroid belt and travelled into deep space, more than five times Earth’s distance from the Sun. Its destination was a periodic comet known as Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.The Rosetta orbiter rendezvoused with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and remained in close proximity to the icy nucleus as it plunges towards the warmer inner reaches of the Sun’s domain. At the same time, a small lander was released onto the surface of this mysterious cosmic iceberg.