A mini-laboratory designed and built by Harwell-based RAL Space and The Open University is due to reach an icy comet today.
Mission controllers in Germany are preparing for the crucial six minute 26 second thruster burn that will set the Rosetta probe into orbit around the two-mile (3.2km) wide object at 10am.
It marks the end of the probe’s 10 year journey to the comet which is 250m miles away.
Rosetta’s destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is a misshapen lump of ice and dust swinging in a wide circuit round the Sun at around 34,175 mph.
The mini-laboratory will analyse grain samples from the comet and answer questions about its origins.
Professor Richard Holdaway, director of RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, said: “This is an historic and hugely exciting moment for the Rosetta Mission.
“We are very proud of our involvement and eagerly anticipate receiving the first results.”
For the next 17 months Rosetta, a box-like structure just under 10 feet long with two wing-like solar panels, will remain close to the comet as it heads towards the Sun and heats up, throwing out increasing amounts of gas and dust.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
Our top stories
11:10am Monday 22nd December 2014
A LORRY containing egg boxes has caught fire on the A40 near Witney.
9:00am Monday 22nd December 2014
THERE is no longer anywhere cheap to live in Oxford, leaving average earners priced out of the market house prices up to 19 times the media salary, new figures show.
UPDATE: Queues along Abingdon Road as Westgate shopping centre car park fills up with Christmas shoppers
4:35pm Monday 22nd December 2014
A RUSH of shoppers to the Westgate Shopping Centre has caused traffic to queue down Abingdon Road in Oxford.
1:19pm Monday 22nd December 2014
THE A4130 is partially blocked in both directions by a car crash between Didcot and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.
12:10pm Monday 22nd December 2014
PEOPLE in Oxfordshire with cancer and rare diseases could get advanced diagnosis and treatment under a new genetics project.
6:00am Tuesday 9th December 2014
December is Advent Calendar time and we have a special new interactive graphic for you each and every day until Christmas Eve. I've chosen the best 24 pictures of 2014 and I'll be unveiling one a day - so what is behind's today's door?