Explained: What is Rosetta, and why did it crash land on a comet?

September 30, 2016 11:55 AM

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Explained: What is Rosetta, and why did it crash land on a comet?

A: An orbital spacecraft sent to investigate comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. For the past two years the probe has been sending back pictures and data from the comet. It also deployed a small lander, Philae, which bounced onto the comet's surface on November 12, 2014.

A: At the time Rosetta made its "controlled impact" the comet was 485 million miles (780.5 million km) from Earth. But Rosetta's circuitous route through space crossed four billion miles and lasted 10 years. To accelerate to sufficient speed, Rosetta had to use gravitational "slingshot" kicks from E...

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