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Bruce Willis won't be visiting this asteroid, but the European Space Agency will

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(Read caption) The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft will not be carrying Bruce Willis – or anyone else – as it performs a flyby of asteroid Lutetia.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) will have a close encouter with an asteroid by way of the Rosetta spacecraft coming close to asteroid Lutetia on 10 July, 18:00–23:00 with the first images being made available from ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany prior to 24:00 there.

ESA’s Rosetta comet-chaser is en route to its main target, comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, arriving in 2014. On Saturday, 10 July it will fly past the previously unvisited asteroid Lutetia.

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Lutetia will be the second asteroid studied during Rosetta’s journey. The Steins flyby [video] took place on 5 September 2008, approaching to within 800 km.

Lutetia is a much bigger asteroid, so the flyby will be no closer than about 3200 km. Any nearer and Rosetta would not be able to fit the whole asteroid into the camera’s field of view.

Jack Kennedy blogs at Spaceports.

View all of Spaceports posts on the Monitor.

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