The mission's main goal is to meet up with the 4km-wide comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in early 2014. At this time, the comet will be cold and inactive, and Rosetta will be able to release a washing-machine-sized lander, called Philae, on to the object's surface. The orbiter and lander will then record changes in the comet as it hurtles in towards the Sun at speeds up to 135,000 km/hr.
Rosetta had originally been scheduled for launch in January 2003 and to rendezvous with comet Wirtanen in 2011. En route it was to have flown past asteroids Otawara in 2006 and Siwa in 2008. However, missed its original launch window because of concerns over its Ariane V launch vehicle (a different version of which had failed on the previous flight).
Archived newsComet spacecraft makes Earth pass (Mar 3, 2005)
Related entry comet and asteroid missions
Related category SATELLITES AND SPACE PROBES
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