Europe

Europe's comet chaser gets final commands to end its mission

  • The artist impression provided on the website of the European Space Agency ESA on Sept. 29, 2016 shows ESA's Rosetta cometary probe. The spacecraft will be crash landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Sept. 30, 2016. (J. Huart/ESA via AP)

    The artist impression provided on the website of the European Space Agency ESA on Sept. 29, 2016 shows ESA's Rosetta cometary probe. The spacecraft will be crash landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Sept. 30, 2016. (J. Huart/ESA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by the European Space Agency ESA Rosetta’s OSIRIS wide-angle camera captured this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 02:17 GMT from an altitude of about 15.5 km above the surface during the spacecraft’s final descent on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. The image scale is about 1.56 m/pixel and the image measures about 3.2 km across. (ESA via AP)

    In this photo provided by the European Space Agency ESA Rosetta’s OSIRIS wide-angle camera captured this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 02:17 GMT from an altitude of about 15.5 km above the surface during the spacecraft’s final descent on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. The image scale is about 1.56 m/pixel and the image measures about 3.2 km across. (ESA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • The provided by European Space Agency ESA on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 was captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 08:21 GMT from an altitude of about 5.7 km during the spacecraft’s final descent on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.  (ESA via AP)

    The provided by European Space Agency ESA on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 was captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 08:21 GMT from an altitude of about 5.7 km during the spacecraft’s final descent on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. (ESA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Europe's comet-chasing space probe Rosetta has received its last commands putting it on course to crash-land on the icy surface of the alien world it's been following for more than a decade.

Scientists say Rosetta fired its thrusters for 208 seconds late Thursday and is now expected to hit the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at 1038 GMT Friday.

During its final descent the probe will carry out a series of pre-programmed commands including taking unprecedented low-altitude images of the comet that could reveal surface features as small as an inch (2.5 centimeter).

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe and its sidekick Philae, which landed on the comet in November 2014, have provided scientists with new insights into the composition of comets and the formation of celestial bodies.

___

http://rosetta.esa.int