The Life and Death of the Rosetta Spacecraft: 2004 to 2016

Rosetta Probe's 'Death Dive' Into Comet 67P Coming - Mission Highlights | Video
Rosetta Probe's 'Death Dive' Into Comet 67P Coming - Mission Highlights | Video (Image credit: ESA)

On the morning of Sept. 30, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft crash-landed on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ending a 12-year mission to study a comet like never before. Launched in 2004, the Rosetta spacecraft visited asteroids before arriving in orbit around Comet 67P in August 2014. In November of that year, Rosetta's lander Philae made a historic landing on Comet 67P — a major space feat. 

Main story: Goodbye, Rosetta! Spacecraft Crash-Lands on Comet in Epic Mission Finale

Artist's illustration of Europe's Rosetta probe ending its mission by touching down on Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Sept. 30, 2016. (Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

Photos, Video & Infographics

Full Coverage

Friday, Sept. 30

Parting Shots: The Rosetta Spacecraft's Last Photos of Comet 67P
Rosetta captured its last view of Comet 67P on Sept. 30, 2016 from an altitude of about 65 feet (20 meters).

Death of a Spacecraft: Bittersweet Mood as Rosetta Crash-Lands on Comet
Today (Sept. 30) marks the end of operations for the European Space Agency's (ESA) historic Rosetta mission, and the mood felt almost funereal as the postlanding celebration began.

Goodbye, Rosetta! Spacecraft Crash-Lands on Comet in Epic Mission Finale
The Rosetta probe drifted down to the surface of Comet 67P today (Sept. 30) and ended its 12-year mission.

Rosetta Comet Spacecraft Is About to Plunge to Its Death
At around 6:40 a.m. EDT (1040 GMT) today (Sept. 30), Rosetta is scheduled to crash-land intentionally on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ending the European spacecraft's epic 12-year mission.

Thursday, Sept. 29

'Ambition: Epilogue' Pays Tribute to Rosetta's Final Comet Days
The European Space Agency has commissioned a sequel to the short film "Ambition," honoring a historic mission that's about to come to a dramatic end.

Rosetta's Final Day: Scientists Await Comet Probe's Crash
Europe's Rosetta spacecraft will end its mission Friday (Sept. 30) by landing on the comet it's been orbiting for the last two years.

Rosetta and Its Kin: A History of Comet and Asteroid Missions
As Rosetta closes out its dramatic mission with a descent to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European orbiter joins a long list of cometary and small-body missions that have helped us learn more about the early solar system.

The two-part Rosetta spacecraft is designed to orbit and land on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. See how the Rosetta spacecraft works in this infographic. (Image credit: by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

Wednesday, Sept. 28

How to Watch Europe's Rosetta Comet Mission Finale on Thursday, Friday
Europe's history-making Rosetta comet mission is coming to an end, and you can watch the grand finale live Thursday and Friday (Sept. 29 and Sept. 30).

Rosetta Probe's 'Death Dive' Into Comet 67P Visualized
The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe will meet its demise on September 30, 2016 when a maneuver is performed to make it crash into Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. This visualization shows the descent, but stops short of it crashing. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27

First Comet-Orbiting Spacecraft Set to Crash-Land Friday
The first spacecraft to orbit a comet will end its historic mission on Friday (Sept. 30) with a crash landing.

Rosetta Probe's 'Death Dive' Into Comet 67P Coming - Mission Highlights
The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe will plummet it into the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Sept. 30th, 2016, putting an end to the mission. Take a look back at the historic mission through the lens of ESA and Euronews.

Mission Milestones

Rosetta Spacecraft's Last Move: A Daring Dive Toward Comet Pits

Philae Lander's Grave on Comet Found at Last After Nearly 2-Year Search

Rosetta Probe's Complicated Orbit Of Comet 67P Visualized - 2 Year Time-Lapse

Goodbye Philae: Comet Lander Comm Link Switched Off

Comet Probe Will Be Destroyed - Incredible Records and Discoveries Explained

Rosetta's Comet Is Fluffy Dust to the Core

Rosetta's Philae Comet Landing: November 2014

Main Landing Story: European Spacecraft Lands on Comet in Historic Space Feat  
After 10 years and 4 billion miles, humanity's first spacecraft to land on a comet has reached its destination. The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission has landed its Philae probe on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G.

Google Doodle Celebrates Europe's Comet Landing  
Scientists and space fans aren't the only ones excited for ESA's historic comet landing. See how Google joined the celebration.

Here's What a Comet 317 Million Miles Away Looks Like to a Landing Spacecraft  
This is the view you would have seen if you could have taken a ride on Europe's Philae lander as it descended to the surface of a comet.

1st Comet Approach Photos from European Spacecraft  
The first photos are out of ESA's unprecedented comet landing attempt. See photos of Philae lander's departure from its Rosetta mothership here.

Special Report: Rosetta Mission's Historic Comet Landing: Full Coverage

More Resources

Follow us @Spacedotcom>, Facebook and Google+.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.