– after a 10-year journey through space
- The mission follows up suggestions that the water on Earth was delivered during the early history of our planet by intense bombardment of comets containing water. Were the building blocks of life delivered as well? The water on Earth has a particular ratio of hydrogen, known as tritium which contains extra neutrons.
- If the water on comet 67P has hydrogen with this same ratio, and further if amino acids are present, then the evidence will mount that water and the building blocks of life were indeed delivered to Earth by comets.
- Rosetta is a robotic spacecraft built and launched by the European Space Agency to perform a detailed study of comet 67P. It was launched in March 2004 and is expected to reach the comet in August 2014. It is the first mission designed to both orbit and land on a comet. The journey to the comet has been one of 7 billion kilometres and has included a fly-by of Mars to fling the craft out into a larger orbit. Now the challenge is to slow the craft down to match the velocity of the comet. The aim of the mission is to land on the surface of the comet then conduct experiments to determine the nature of the comet.