On July 10, 2010 ESA's Rosetta spacecraft imaged asteroid Lutetia within an estimated distance of 3170 kilometers. Lutetia (the largest asteroid yet visited by a spacecraft) was discovered in 1852 from the Paris balcony of French painter turned astronomer Hermann Goldschmidt. To honour his home city, he called it 'Lutetia', after the Roman name for Paris.
In 2008 Rosetta encountered the asteroid (2867) Steins at a distance of 802.6 km.
All images: CREDIT: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Pre-flyby image! View of Lutetia at a distance of 80,000 km.
Lutetia imaged just before its closest approach with Rosetta
At a distance of 36 000 km, Rosetta took this image of Lutetia with the planet Saturn in the background.
Lutetia close approach by Rosetta - Animation (click for a bigger version)
Next Rosetta rendezvous, scheduled for 2014, is with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This comet rendezvous is the ultimate goal of Rosetta in the attempt to try to solve some of the enigmas of our Solar System.
by Ernesto Guido