On 30 September last year, the European Space Agency’s comet-chasing “Rosetta” mission executed what director general Jan Woerner describes as a “planned suicide”, literally spewing out one last blast of data by crashing into the comet it had been tracking since May 2014. Quite apart from its effect on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, Rosetta – named after the hieroglyphics-translating stone – was a real ground-breaker and no mean technical feat. It took 10 years from launch for the car-sized spacecraft to close on and intercept 67P, beyond Jupiter, and then stick by for two and a half years as it hurtled towards, around and away from the Sun. En route, it unleashed a small lander, whose mini-mission was a qualified success despite an over-hard landing.
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