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Artist's impression of Rosetta asteroid fly-by

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Artist's impression of Rosetta asteroid fly-by
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ESA's Rosetta spacecraft flew by asteroid (2867) Steins on 5 September 2008 at 20:58 CEST, ground received time (= spacecraft time CEST + 20 minutes), with a closest approach distance of 800 km.

Steins is Rosetta's first nominal scientific target. The spacecraft encountered the asteroid in the course of its first incursion into the main asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, while on its way to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The study of asteroids is extremely important because they represent a sample of Solar System material at different stages of evolution – key to understanding the origin of our own planet and of our planetary neighbourhood.
Credit: ESA, image by C.Carreau