Rosetta, the first space probe to rendezvous with a comet and escort it around the sun, successfully landed early Friday morning, wrapping up a 16-year mission.
For the last couple of years, Rosetta has been in very close proximity to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko near the orbit of giant planet Jupiter.
The European Space Agency (ESA) ran the mission with help from NASA and other partners around the world.
NASA provided at least three of the onboard instruments.
Using various spectrometers, and ion, electron, and plasma sensors, Rosetta collected and analyzed gasses and dust from the comet and its tail.
NASA says "The Rosetta mission was launched in 2004 and arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Aug. 6, 2014. It's the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet and escort it as it orbits the sun. On Nov. 4, 2014, a smaller lander named Philae -- which had been deployed from the Rosetta mothership -- touched down on the comet and bounced several times before alighting on the surface. Philae obtained the first images taken from a comet's surface and sent back valuable scientific data for several days."
Rosetta's last image
The ESA, who can no longer communicate with Rosetta, sent out this message: "Comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when the Sun and its planets formed. By studying the gas, dust and structure of the nucleus and organic materials associated with the comet, via both remote and in situ observations, the Rosetta mission is a key to unlocking the history and evolution of our Solar System."
Click the above video to see Dr. Jim Green, NASA's Directory of Planetary Sciences, talk with our Burton Fitzsimmons about the science behind the mission.