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Rosetta Approaches Asteroid Lutitea
04/24/12
Explanation: What would it look like to approach an asteroid in a spaceship? In 2010, ESA's robotic Rosetta spacecraft zipped past the asteroid 21 Lutetia taking data and snapping images in an effort to better determine the history of the asteroid and the origin of its unusual colors. Recently, many images from a camera always facing the asteroid were compiled into the above video. Although of unknown composition, Lutetia is not massive enough for gravity to pull it into a sphere. The 100-kilometer across Lutetian is currently the largest asteroid or comet nucleus that has been visited by a human-launched spacecraft. Orbiting in the main asteroid belt, Lutetia shows itself to be a heavily cratered remnant of the early Solar System. Now well past Lutetia, the Rosetta spacecraft is continuing onto comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko where a landing is planned for 2014.
Rosetta Approaches Asteroid Lutitea
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