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European Space Agency sets Nov. 12 date to attempt first comet landing

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BERLIN — The European Space Agency says it will attempt to land the first spacecraft on a comet on Nov. 12.

It says the maneuver will take about seven hours starting from the moment its unmanned probe Rosetta releases the 100-kilogram lander at 0835 GMT (0335 EST).

PHOTO: FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2014 file photo taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is pictured from a distance of 285 kms. Scientists at the European Space Agency on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, announced the spot where they will attempt the first landing on a comet hurtling through space at 55,000 kph (34,000 mph). The maneuver is one of the key moments in the decade-long mission to examine the comet and learn more about the origins and evolution of objects in the universe. (AP Photo/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team, File )
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2014 file photo taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is pictured from a distance of 285 kms. Scientists at the European Space Agency on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, announced the spot where they will attempt the first landing on a comet hurtling through space at 55,000 kph (34,000 mph). The maneuver is one of the key moments in the decade-long mission to examine the comet and learn more about the origins and evolution of objects in the universe. (AP Photo/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team, File )

Because of the 28 minutes it takes the signal to travel back to Earth, confirmation of a successful landing won't arrive until about shortly after 1600 GMT (1100 EST).

ESA said in a statement Friday that it has a backup plan in case of a problem with the preferred landing site.

Scientists hope the decade-long mission to examine comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will help them learn more about the origins and evolution of objects in the universe.

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