Rosetta lifts off

RosettaAfter years of delays that forced a rewrite of the entire mission plan, the European Space Agency launches the Rosetta unmanned space probe on a looping, ten-year journey through the solar system that will hopefully take it to a rendezvous with Comet 67/P Churyumov–Gerasimenko in ten years. The mission plan calls for Rosetta to orbit the comet and release a small lander, Philae, to descend to its surface. In the intervening years, Rosetta will also have opportunities to study Mars and various asteroids as it passes by them. Rosetta’s mission profile is similar to that of NASA’s cancelled 1990s CRAF (Comet Rendezvous / Asteroid Flyby) mission.