Rosetta probe collision signal awaited – BBC News

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Esa

Image caption

Rosetta captured this image of 67P from 5.8km away

Officials are awaiting confirmation of the Rosetta probe’s collision into a 4km-wide ball of ice and dust.

The spacecraft should already have hit its target, but confirmation should be received at about 11:18 GMT (12:18 BST/1318 CEST) on Friday.

It is sending back pictures as it edges closer to Comet 67P.

European Space Agency scientists say the satellite has come to the end of its useful life and they want to get some final, ultra-close measurements.

Rosetta is not expected to survive the impact, marking the end of one of the most audacious space missions ever.

Even if some of its systems remain functional, pre-loaded software on board will ensure everything is shut down on contact.

Officials took the decision to crash the spacecraft because of fading power as the comet moves away from the Sun and because of increasingly slow data rates.

The 19km descent should have led to Rosetta hitting the comet’s “head” at roughly walking pace.

Live: Rosetta ends its mission

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Over the last few days, Rosetta has manoeuvred from its flyover orbits to line up for collision with the comet

Controllers here at Esa’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, commanded Rosetta to change course late on Thursday.

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