Twelve Years Around the Solar System

This animation shows the Rosetta spacecraft’s 12-year journey to reach comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The “cosmic billiard ball,” as the European Space Agency calls Rosetta, took advantage of four gravity assists, three around Earth and one around Mars, to speed up and adjust its course to match the comet’s. On the way, Rosetta flew by two asteroids to test many of its 21 instruments. After a long hibernation as it reached out to nearly Jupiter’s orbit, it will finally reach Churyumov-Gerasimenko this August. Soon after, Rosetta will deploy its lander, Philea, to study the mysterious comet up close, and the trio will travel together around the closest point in its orbit of the sun. (Video: ESA) (2:01)

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