cbc.ca (© Copyright: (C) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/termsofuse.html#Rss)
Updated: Tue, 05 Aug 2014 17:24:19 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Rosetta spacecraft meets Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko



Artist impression of ESA's Rosetta approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet image was taken on 2 August 2014 by the spacecraft's navigation camera at a distance of about 500 km. The spacecraft and comet are not to scale. ESA/ATG medialab; ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Artist impression of ESA's Rosetta approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet image was taken on 2 August 2014 by the spacecraft's navigation camera at a distance of about 500 km. The spacecraft and comet are not to scale. ESA/ATG medialab; ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

The Rosetta spacecraft is about to become the first ever to visit a comet.

The unmanned European Space Agency spacecraft was expected to orbit around the comet 67P/Churumov-Gerasimenko Wednesday morning starting at 4 a.m. ET. The ESA is streaming the event live.

The comet is currently between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Recent photos from Rosetta show that the comet, which is roughly three kilometres by five kilometres in diameter, has an irregular duck-like shape and rotates about once every 12.4 hours.

The car-sized, three-tonne spacecraft will follow the comet toward the sun for the next few months, before deploying a lander to touch down on the comet's surface in November.

Rosetta blasted off from Earth on March 2, 2004. Since then, it has travelled more than six billion kilometres, passing Earth three times and Mars once in order to get boosts from their gravity.

The mission will have an estimated cost of 1.3 billion euros ($1.9 billion).

more video