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Spacecraft to attempt comet landing next month

Associated Press

Berlin — The European Space Agency has confirmed the time and place it will attempt to land the first spacecraft on a comet.

The agency said Wednesday its unmanned probe Rosetta will release the 220-pound lander at 3:35 p.m. EST on Nov. 12.

The aim is to drop its lander Philae at a location dubbed ‘Site J’ on the 2.5-mile wide comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The maneuver will take about seven hours. But because the radio signals take 28 minutes to travel hundreds of millions of miles back to Earth, confirmation of a successful landing won’t arrive until about 11:03 a.m. EST.

Scientists hope the mission will help them learn more about the origins and evolution of objects in the universe.