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See Inside Scientific American Volume 311, Issue 2

Spacecraft Arrives at Comet after 10-Year Journey [Infographic]

After 10 years of flying through space, the Rosetta spacecraft arrives at its target [Infographic]



Source: European Space Agency; Illustration by Dan Foley

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has been flying toward its target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, for 10 years. This month, at long last, it arrives. Astronomers think that comets were the building blocks of our solar system, and by studying one up close, they can better understand these planetary raw materials. Rosetta will also document how a comet's tail forms by watching its target shed dust and gas as it nears the sun. But that's only if its lander can do something never before attempted: land on a comet hurtling through space.

This article was originally published with the title "Rendezvous with a Comet."

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