Chasing comets with Rosetta
Rosetta, from the European Space Agency, is incredible. If you don’t know about the mission, the Rosetta craft was launched in 2004. It’s mission is to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, in 2014. That kind of stuff always amazes me. They threw a dart at a target that was billions of kilometers, and ten years, away. And as of now, it looks like things are on target. Rosetta is in deep sleep for the coldest part of its journey, near Jupiter, but set to wake up in January.
To really appreciate it, you need to watch the video at the ESA website. It shows the path Rosetta has taken to get to where it is, complete with multiple gravity assists from Earth and Mars. They also detail some of the plans for what happens once the rendezvous is made. The idea of a craft traveling with, and on, a comet as it makes its closest pass of the Sun is the stuff of sci-fi. Apparently, the future is now. Or, at least in 2014.