This is so cool!!!

comet close up-august-3

From PC Mag:

“After ten years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometers, we are delighted to announce finally ‘we are here,’” says Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General in a statement.

Over the next few months, Rosetta will attempt to close in on a near-circular orbit of 30 km (around 18.6 miles; basically nothing in space scales) before attempting to send a lander (dubbed” Philae”) onto the comet where it will take direct scientific measurements.

The Rosetta team has identified five possible landing sites on the comet and plans to settle on one by the middle of October, after which the agency will attempt to land the Philae lander in mid-November.

Comets are often described as “dirty snowballs,” which make highly oblique orbits around the Sun. While they are tiny in comparison to the size of the Earth, they have had an outsized effect in the development of our planet and possibly of life itself.

It is thought that comets helped create the watery Earth we know and love today (and may also have carried over of the vital ingredients which lead to the creation of life in the first place). Further along in our planet’s development comet impacts may have also been the cause for at least a few of our planet’s occasional mass extinctions.