Rosetta is a robotic spacecraft built and launched by the European Space Agency to perform a detailed study of the comet 67P. It is part of the ESA Horizon 2000 cornerstone missions and it is the first mission in which a spacecraft is planned to orbit and land on a comet. Rosetta was launched in March 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket and will reach the comet in August 2014. The spacecraft consists of two main elements: the Rosetta space probe orbiter, which features 12 instruments, and the Philaerobotic lander, with an additional nine instruments. The Rosetta mission will orbit 67P for 17 months and is designed to complete the most detailed study of a comet ever attempted. The mission is controlled from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Darmstadt, Germany. The probe is named after the Rosetta Stone, a basalt slab of Egyptian origin featuring a decree in three scripts. The lander is named after the Nile island Philae, where an obelisk was discovered with inscriptions. A comparison of the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone and the obelisk led to greater understanding of the Egyptian writing system. Similarly, it is hoped that these spacecraft will result in better understanding of comets and the early Solar System. The spacecraft has already performed two successful asteroid flyby missions on its way to the comet. In 2007, Rosetta also performed a Mars swingby (flyby), and returned images. The craft completed its fly-by of asteroid 2867 Šteins in September 2008 and of 21 Lutetia in July 2010. On 20 January 2014, Rosetta was taken out of a 31-month hibernation mode and is continuing to its target.
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