New York: 22:03 || London: 02:03 || Mumbai: 05:33 || Singapore: 08:03

Reports US

US stock market daily report (August 06, 2014, Wednesday)

August 7, 2014, Thursday, 05:46 GMT | 01:46 EST | 09:16 IST | 11:46 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders

In a decade-long space mission of European spacecraft 'Rosetta' - launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2004 - is getting closer to a comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which is roughly 3-by-5 km in size, discovered in 1969.

It has taken Rosetta 10 years, five months and four days to reach the comet. On a widening spiral course, the spacecraft circled the sun as it headed for the comet, swinging past Earth and Mars to pick up speed and adjust its trajectory. Rosetta was put in a deep sleep for 31 months and woken up earlier this year, because the trip was so long and took the spacecraft so far from the sun's solar rays.

Rosetta is the first to ever catch up with a comet, versus a fly by shooting pictures only. In an unprecedented maneuver expected in November 2014, Rosetta will accompany the comet on its trip around the sun with plans to land a probe on it. Information obtained from the probe is expected to help scientists unlock some of the secrets of the solar system.

As Rosetta neared the comet, pictures taken revealed that it is not shaped like an American football but is comprised of two segments connected by a 'neck' which gives it an asymmetrical shape that has been likened to a duck.

Rosetta Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo said, "We know what the comet's shape is. But we haven't really measured its gravity, we don't know yet where the center of mass is." Accomazzo is based at the ESA's satellite operations in the German town of Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt and has been working on the Rosetta mission since 1997.

Accomazzo said, "We have a lot of time pressure to produce engineering models of a world that we don't know yet."

Using data from Rosetta, scientists are under the gun with a tight schedule to learn enough about the comet to safely land the spacecraft's probe on it.

Scientists hope data gathered by the probe from the surface of the comet will allow them to peer into an astronomical time capsule, preserved for millions of years, providing clues about what the world looked like at the time our solar system was born.

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is hurtling toward the inner Solar System at nearly 55,000 km per hour. As the comet nears the sun, the more active it will become, emitting gases that can make it difficult to predict the trajectory of Rosetta and its probe.