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Rosetta spacecraft swept past the Earth and Moon.


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Earth and Moon.
Rosetta spacecraft swept past the Earth and Moon.

Detector ready to receive beam of neutrinos.

Scientists have begun firing a beam of neutrinos through the Earth to a target 735 km (456 miles) away. This experiment will help the team understand how neutrinos can pass through tremendous amounts of matter, but barely interact. And if they're lucky, they'll catch the particles as they morph into different varieties: electron, muon and tau. One detector, at Fermilab, near Chicago, will sample the beam as it leaves the Main Injector. Another detector is stationed deep underground at the Soudan Mine in Northern Minnesota. Only muon neutrinos will be generated, so if the other varieties show up, scientists will know it happened in between the detectors.

Rosetta photographs the Earth on flyby.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft swept past the Earth and Moon on Friday, gaining a gravity speed boost on its 10-year journey to reach Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. At its closest point, Rosetta passed just 1954 km (1214 miles) above the Pacific Ocean before speeding back off into space. This flyby allowed controllers to rehearse their procedures on a "fake asteroid" (the Moon), as Rosetta will visit two asteroids as part of its mission. Rosetta will make two more visits to Earth and one to Mars before its trip is complete.

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