Roland Piquepaille writes: "After being delayed for about a year because of a failure of the Ariane-5 rocket, the Rosetta spacecraft is scheduled to be launched on February 26. Rosetta is a special spacecraft, including an orbiter and a lander. And it will take up to 2014 before landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko -- with the help of a harpoon. Then, as says the European Space Agency (ESA), Rosetta will help to solve planetary mysteries. This news release looks at the goals of Rosetta's mission and explains why it will take more than ten years to reach the comet. But here the 'funny' part of the story: the landing. 'In November 2014, the lander will be ejected from the spacecraft from a height which could be as low as one kilometre. Touchdown will be at walking speed, about one metre per second. Immediately after touchdown, the lander will fire a harpoon into the ground to avoid bouncing off the surface back into space, since the comet's extremely weak gravity alone would not hold onto the lander.' This overview contains more details and includes illustrations of the Rosetta's spacecraft and its landing on the comet."
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