On the left, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and, on the right, the Sun.
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A comet streaking through space with a European robot lab riding piggyback will skirt the Sun this week, setting another landmark in an extraordinary quest to unravel the origins of life on Earth.If Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko undergoes this dramatic change, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft will be orbiting nearby, ready to pounce on any clues of how our star system came into being."This is the time most of the action happens," European Space Agency expert Mark McCaughrean said of the weekslong peak of comet activity.The ancient celestial voyager will reach its closest point to our star – some 186 million kilometers – at about 02:00 GMT Thursday, before embarking on another 6.5-year egg-shaped orbit.The spacecraft now orbits at some 200-300 kilometers from the comet, compared to less than 10 kilometers at its closest in October last year.Rosetta deposited washing machine-sized Philae on the comet on Nov. 12 last year after a 10-year, 7-billion-kilometer trek.
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