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end of mission

The pioneering Rosetta probe has crash-landed on Comet 67P

Wild cheering erupted in the mission control centre in Darmstadt, as spacecraft operations manager Sylvain Lodiot announced the official end of mission.

EUROPE’S PIONEERING ROSETTA spacecraft concluded a 12-year odyssey today with a controlled crash-landing onto the comet it has orbited and probed for two years to unravel the secrets of the Solar System’s birth, mission controllers said.

Wild cheering erupted in the mission control centre in Darmstadt, as spacecraft operations manager Sylvain Lodiot announced the official end of mission.

Tweet by @ESA Rosetta Mission ESA Rosetta Mission / Twitter ESA Rosetta Mission / Twitter / Twitter

It reached Comet 67P on 6 August 2014, 10 years after setting out on its journey through the solar system.

The stated plan was to take detailed pictures of the surface before the crash. Scientists said they were hoping to get valuable data and stunning images in the final moments before the collision.

Comet 67P is zipping through space at a speed of over 14 kilometres per second.

Rosetta was programmed to make a “controlled impact” at human walking speed, about 90cm  per second.

Speaking earlier on a European Space Agency (ESA) YouTube hangout, Rosetta flight director Andrea Accomazzo said Rosetta was never designed to land:

From an energy point of view it will be a soft landing. But Rosetta’s not designed to land, so there will be some energy dissipation.

“For sure, Rosetta will bounce or tumble on the surface of the comet, but will not bounce back into orbit.”

A decision was made to crash the spacecraft because the comet is heading so far from the sun that its solar panels will not be able to generate enough power to keep it functioning for much longer.

Additional reporting by AP and AFP.

Read: The Rosetta spacecraft took an incredible ‘selfie’ with a comet>

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