Paris, November 5 (ANI): ESA's (European Space Agency) comet chaser Rosetta will swing by Earth for the last time on November 13 to pick up energy and begin the final leg of its 10-year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
This will be the third Earth swing by, the last of Rosetta's four planetary gravity assists.
Closest approach to Earth is expected at 08:45 CET. The swingby will provide exactly the boost Rosetta needs to continue into the outer Solar System.
The spacecraft is scheduled for a close encounter with asteroid 21 Lutetia in July next year, before it goes into hibernation early in 2011, only to wake up in early 2014 for approach to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
As the most primitive objects in the Solar System, the chemical composition of comets has not changed much since their formation.
They preserve a record of the early Solar System.
When it reaches 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, Rosetta will be the first mission to orbit and deploy a lander on a comet.
It will help to reconstruct the history of our neighborhood in space.
The spacecraft is operated from ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. (ANI)