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Rosetta flies past Earth
Posted: Sun, Mar 6, 2005, 10:40 AM ET (1540 GMT)
Rosetta spacecraft illustration (ESA) ESA's Rosetta spacecraft flew past Earth late Friday in the first of a series of flybys en route to a comet. Rosetta, launched a year ago, flew past the Earth, coming within 1,955 km of the surface over the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico at 5:09 pm EST (2209 GMT) Friday. Scientists used the flyby to test a number of instruments on the spacecraft, including taking images of the Earth and Moon. Engineers also tested an automated "asteroid fly-by mode" as the spacecraft sped past the Moon. The flyby put the spacecraft on course for a February 2007 flyby of Mars. After that Rosetta will perform four more planetary flybys, three of Earth and one of Mars, using the gravity assists provided by each flyby to swing the spacecraft towards its final destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta is scheduled to rendezvous with the comet in 2014.
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