Space Probe Visits Biggest Asteroid Yet

Europe's Rosetta snapping photos of mysterious Lutetia
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2010 1:43 PM CDT
Space Probe Visits Biggest Asteroid Yet
Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo controls the Rosetta asteroid mission in Darmstadt, Germany, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/dapd/Mario Vedder)

(Newser) – The European Space Agency is pulling off a nifty feat 280 million miles from home. Its comet-chasing space probe Rosetta is making a flyby of the biggest asteroid ever visited by a spacecraft, reports the BBC. Rosetta will be sending back photos of Lutetia, which was first spotted 150 years ago between Mars and Jupiter but remains a relative mystery.

"At the moment we know very little about it," said one project scientist. "We are now going to get the details of this asteroid, which is very important—there will be a lot of science coming from that mission." After this, Rosetta will continue on toward its main target, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, notes AP. It's got another 4 years of flying to get there. (Read more European Space Agency stories.)

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