After 10 years and billions of miles of travel through the solar system,the Rosetta spacecraft made history Wednesday, becoming the first probe to rendezvous with a comet on its voyage around the sun.
“Thruster burn complete. Rosetta has arrived at comet 67P. We’re in orbit!” announced the European Space Agency, which is leading the ambitious project, on Twitter.
Rosetta fired its thrusters on its final approach to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, known as “Chury” for short, on Wednesday morning. Half an hour after the burn, scientists announced that the craft had entered into the orbit of the streaking comet.
“After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometers, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here’,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, in a statement.
The Rosetta will travel with the comet for the next year and a half, taking pictures of the comet, sampling its chemicals and measuring how the sun’s energy changes it.
Scientists hope the mission will reveal more about the origins of comets and other celestial bodies.