Advancing Space Technology

Landing A Spacecraft On A Comet

In September of 2016, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta probe successfully ended its 12-year journey with a planned landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.


Rosetta’s Mission

First observed in 1969, the 2.5-mile-wide (4 km) Comet 67P circles the sun every 6.5 years between the orbits of Earth and Jupiter. Rosetta’s mission was an ambitious one: to be the first spacecraft to orbit a comet and land on its surface. It was also the first spacecraft to fly close to Jupiter’s orbit using only solar cells as its main power source.

The most advanced technology on Earth was required, so ESA engineers and scientists worked closely with engineers from Arrow Electronics on component selection, assembly, integration, and testing before the launch in March 2004.

The data received from Rosetta has produced a number of discoveries including the presence of organic compounds, the building blocks of life, on the comet.

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