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VIDEO: Rosetta comet-chasing spacecraft wakes up

First came space travellers, then asteroid miners, and now worldwide attention is centred on Rosetta, Europe’s decade-long quest to put a robotic lander on a comet.

The experiment, which has waited years in a hibernation state, was woken up Monday morning (5:00 am ET), as announced in Dec. the European Space Agency (ESA).

Scientists, however, face an agonizing wait of several hours until the first signal —coming 800 million kilometres away from Earth— reaches our planet. Only then they’ll be able to celebrate a new milestone in their unprecedented mission to place a spacecraft on a comet.

The spacecraft is due to rendezvous with the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet in August this year. It will later attempt to perform one of the most technologically advanced missions ever undertaken.

Launched in 2004, Rosetta’s main goal is to help scientists to better understand the composition of comets.

Ground control teams hope to have confirmation of Rosetta’s resuscitation by 1:30pm EST, and should be able to determine if the mission is still on track.

Here is how Rosetta is supposed to have woken up: