After a decade-long quest spanning six billion kilometres (3.75 billion miles), a European probe will come face to face Wednesday with a comet, one of the Solar System’s enigmatic wanderers.
The moment will mark a key phase of the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the European Space Agency (ESA) — a 1.3 billion euro ($1.76 billion) bid to get to know these timeless space rovers.
More than 400 million km from where it was launched in March 2004, the spacecraft Rosetta will finally meet up with its prey, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
To get there, Rosetta has had to make four flybys of Mars and Earth, using their gravitational force as a slingshot to build up speed, and then entering a 31-month hibernation as light from the distant Sun became too weak for its solar panels.
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