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Spacecraft captures images of asteroid
The European spacecraft Rosetta has performed a fly-by of a massive asteroid hurtling through the solar system. [ESA]
Published On 11 Jul 2010
11 Jul 2010
Rosetta took a series of photos as the giant rock, which measures 134km in diameter, approached it, passing within 3,200km of the spacecraft. [ESA]
Scientists are now analysing the photographs in an effort to understand more about asteroids. The information they gather could one day help the Earth defend itself from destruction.
Lutetia orbits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, some half a million kilometres from Earth.
The giant rock is scarred with craters from collisions with smaller asteroids.
In this image, Lutetia is seen with the ringed planet Saturn in the background. Rosetta will continue on its mission to meet up with a distant comet in 2014. It has been described as one of the most ambitious space exploration projects to date.