Nov 11, 2014 7:25 AM

Final countdown nears for 1st comet landing

The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) The final countdown is approaching for one of the most audacious space adventures ever the European Space Agency's attempt to land a robot on a comet.

The maneuver marks the climax of the unmanned Rosetta space probe's decade-long journey to study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Early Wednesday, scientists at the mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, will decide whether to give Rosetta the go-ahead to release its sidekick, Philae.

The 100-kilogram (220-pound) landing craft will drop in an uncontrolled manner down to the 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) wide comet and shoot harpoons into its icy surface to prevent it from bouncing off.

Scientists hope that the data collected by Rosetta and its lander will provide insights into the origins of comets and other objects in the universe.


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