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European space probe makes rendezvous with comet after decade-long chase

Europe Comet Chaser_Cham640.jpg

August 6, 2014: An expert watches his screens at the control center of the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany. A mission to land the first space probe on a comet reaches a major milestone when the unmanned Rosetta spacecraft finally catches up with its quarry on Wednesday. (AP Photo/dpa, Boris Roessler)

The European Space Agency says comet-chasing space probe Rosetta has reached its destination after a journey lasting more than a decade.

Scientists and spectators at ESA's mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, cheered Wednesday after the spacecraft successfully completed its final thrust to swing alongside comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

ESA chief Jean-Jacques Dordain says the probe's rendezvous with 67P is an important milestone in Rosetta's life.

The goal of the mission is to orbit 67P from a distance of about 60 miles and observe the giant ball of dust and ice as it hurtles toward the sun. If all goes according to plan, Rosetta will drop the first ever lander onto a comet in November.

Scientists hope this will help them learn more about the origins of comets, stars and planets.