Rosetta catches her comet

August 6th is a big day for European comet-chasing space probe Rosetta. It’s the day the craft should finally catch up with its quarry, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, after a 10-year chase.

At 09:00 GMT, (7pm Australian Eastern Standard Time), Rosetta will fire her thrusters for 6 minutes and 26 seconds to finally enter into orbit around 67P. But watchers on the ground will then have a tense 22 and a half minute wait – the time it currently takes a message to travel from Rosetta to Earth – to find out if the manoeuvre has been successful.

And that message will arrive first in Australia. At that time, because of Earth’s orientation in relation to the space probe, it will be an Australian deep-space station, at New Norcia in WA, which is tracking the probe.

You can follow the live rendezvous here

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