European scientists have sent the Rosetta spacecraft on its final, one-way journey to the surface of a comet, after a historic 12-year mission to discover the secrets of the dusty, icy bodies.

The Rosetta spacecraft has been chasing comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko across more than 6 billion kilometres (3.7 billion miles) of space, collecting a treasure trove of information on comets that will keep scientists busy for the next decade.

On Thursday evening, the European Space Agency confirmed the spacecraft had started its “collision maneuver,” putting it on course to crash into the comet within 20 minutes of 1040 GMT on Friday.

“We want to go out at the peak of capability. We don’t want a comeback tour that’s rubbish. We will end in a very rock-and-roll fashion,” project scientist Matt Taylor told Reuters earlier on Thursday… see more