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Spacecraft Gets Close Look at Comet

The unmanned Rosetta spacecraft made history when it became the first probe to rendezvous with a comet as it journeyed around the sun.

After a 10-year chase spanning more than 4 billion miles across the solar system, the European Space Agency's spacecraft got up close and personal with the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko somewhere between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

It's a crucial step toward researchers' goal of placing the robotic Philae lander on the surface of the comet later this year, something that has never been accomplished.

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The goal of the mission is to learn more about exploring the origins of comets, stars and planets.

The 67P comet has an uneven shape, which could mean the it is comprised of two formerly separate objects or has experienced heavy erosion.

Scientists will use the photos to determine the best place to land later this year. Once on the comet, the lander will shoot a harpoon into the porous surface, allowing it to fix itself to the comet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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