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Rosetta flies past asteroid Lutetia
Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 2010, 12:18 PM ET (1618 GMT)
Lutetia imaged by Rosetta (ESA) ESA's Rosetta spacecraft flew past the asteroid Lutetia on Saturday, the largest asteroid to date visited by a spacecraft. The spacecraft made its closest approach to the asteroid, at a distance of 3,162 kilometers, at 12:10 pm EDT (1610 GMT) Saturday. Images returned by the spacecraft revealed an elongated, cratered body about 130 kilometers lin diameter on its longest axis. Scientists believe the asteroid is a metal-rich body, although previous groundbased observations have revealed characteristics similar to C-type primitive bodies. The flyby is the latest milestone for the mission, launched in 2004, whose ultimate destination is the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta will rendezvous with the comet in late 2014 and deploy a spacecraft to land on the comet's nucleus.
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