Comet-chasing Rosetta still on launchpad

Blast-off delayed by wrong kind of wind

The European Space Agency (ESA) postponed the launch of the Rosetta comet-chaser mission this morning. Mission Control said the wind direction made take-off too risky, and that they would try again tomorrow morning (Friday) at 07:36am.

The delay was frustrating for the teams involved, since the rocket can launch in much stronger winds than were blowing today. The concern was over where debris would fall if there were problems on lift-off. ESA science director David Southwood told New Scientist he felt like he was "all dressed up and nowhere to go".

If tomorrow's launch fails, they will try again the following day. There is a 20-day launch window for the mission, a spokeswoman for the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council said, so the team can afford to wait.

The Rosetta mission will fly to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Landers are equipped with miniaturised lab equipment to conduct experiments on the comet's surface. The results could provide insight into the earliest years of our solar system. ®

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