Rosetta mission lands on a comet. One of the biggest space missions in years will take place nearly 4 billion miles from Earth on Wednesday. A spacecraft named Rosetta will drop a refrigerator-sized lander onto a comet.
If successful, it will be the first time humans have ever attached a robot to a comet.
The comet, called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is made up of plunging cliffs and rocky terrain and is currently orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. The comet and Rosetta are now barreling through space together at 40,000 mph. That’s pretty cool, but this landing is the main reasonRosetta made the 10-year journey.
Operated by the European Space Agency, this mission has a 70% chance of success. If Rosetta is just millimeters off on the drop, it could result in total failure.
Rosetta will deploy Philae around 3:35 a.m. ET (8:35 a.m. GMT) on Wednesday from about 14 miles away from the center of the comet. Once released, Philae is on its own, so ESA has to get the deployment right. The descent will take about seven hours.