1 Oct 2016

Dramatic conclusion to 12-year space odyssey

7:28 am on 1 October 2016

The Rosetta satellite has ended its historic 12-year mission into deep space as planned - by crashing into the comet it has been studying for the past two years.

A view taken by Rosetta’s camera of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 
during the spacecraft’s final descent on 30 September.

A view taken by Rosetta's camera of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during the spacecraft's final descent. Photo: AFP PHOTO /ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The European Space Agency steered it into Comet 67P after concluding it would soon be too far from the sun to recharge its batteries.

The comet is currently heading away from the sun, limiting the solar energy available to Rosetta to operate its systems.

Rather than put the probe into hibernation or simply let it slowly fade into inactivity, the mission team in Darmstadt, Germany, determined that the venture should go out with a bang.

Researchers expect all the data gathered will keep them busy for decades to come.

Engineers and scientists react in the main control room of the European Space Operation Center after the controlled descent of Rosetta onto the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Engineers and scientists react in the main control room of the European Space Operation Center after the controlled descent of Rosetta onto the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Photo: AFP

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