The Rosetta probe, sent into space to collect data about a comet, has completed its 12-year mission with a crash-landing.
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched the spacecraft in 2004 and sent it to explore the features of the catchily-titled Comet 67P. After collecting reams of data and sending its sister landing probe, Philae, down to the surface of the comet, Rosetta was gradually phased out of action as it ran out of solar-powered energy and could no longer communicate with Philae.
The ESA announced the probe had touched down on the comet and would cease communications with Earth, after sending back streams of data as it approached the comet, which was around 700m miles away from Earth in the end (more than seven times the distance from the Earth to the Sun).
The mission cost more than €1bn (£862m) as Rosetta had to travel to the comet as it hurtled around the sun in an oblong orbit which took it beyond the planet Jupiter. The ESA wanted to study the chemical composition of the comet and find out whether collisions with earth could have kick-started the formation of life. Scientists hailed the mission as a remarkable success.
OUCH! That HURT!#CometLanding— Comet 67P (@IamComet67P) September 30, 2016
Dammit ESA, I was doing pretty well until the last little animated segment at the end 😭Actually teared up a little #CometLanding— Rena (@RenaRebelle) September 30, 2016
Oh man. That cartoon. All the emotions. Consider my heart-strings truly tugged. #CometLanding— Dr Paul Coxon (@paulcoxon) September 30, 2016