Rosetta spacecraft enters final stage of comet crash mission


Scientists behind the historic Rosetta mission have said their goodbyes to the spacecraft as it entered the final stage of its kamikaze descent on to a comet.

The £1 billion quest to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is due to end with a crunch at around 11.38am UK time on Friday.

Rosetta will share its resting place with a tiny lander it dispatched onto the surface nearly two years ago, spelling the end of the daring expedition that began in 2004.

Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) set the orbiter on a collision course with the rubber duck-shaped chunk of ice and dust on Thursday evening.

A note signed by the team and left on the main control room door at the European Space Operations Centre said: "Farewell Rosetta! We will miss you."

Professor Monica Grady, a British scientist involved in the design of the lander, said she had "very mixed feelings" as the end approached.

"It's been a fantastic mission, but it's time now to move on to the next one," she told BBC News.

"It's been a tremendous achievement by the European Space Agency, it's been absolutely amazing."