Scientists at the European Space Agency are celebrating a landmark event, with the successful entry of the Rosetta spacecraft into the orbit of a comet after a ten-year journey. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
It was a journey ten years in the making as the spacecraft Rosetta became the first ever to catch up with a comet. For scientists, it was a landmark moment. . (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF THE SATELLITE CONTROL CENTER AT THE EUROPEAN SPACE OPERATIONS CENTER, THOMAS REITER, SAYING: "Of course it is a relief, it was a long journey and now this is a really emotional moment that it has now arrived at the comet." Scientists like Thomas Reiter of the European Space Operations Center hope Rosetta will help unlock some of the secrets of the solar system. But first, there's an even greater challenge to overcome. In November they will attempt to land the probe on the comet's surface. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF THE SATELLITE CONTROL CENTER AT THE EUROPEAN SPACE OPERATIONS CENTER, THOMAS REITER, SAYING: "We hope of course to find organic molecules on the comet but perhaps also molecules which are relevant for the creation of life on earth. That would be spectacular. We expect to find and see new things. At the moment nobody has an idea about what it really looks like on such a comet and so we are very excited about it." It has taken Rosetta 10 years, five months and four days to reach the comet, a roughly 3-by-5 km rock discovered in 1969. Soon, scientists hope, it will begin to reveal its secrets.