- Associated Press - Saturday, July 10, 2010

BERLIN (AP) - The European Space Agency is preparing to take the closest look yet at asteroid Lutetia in an extraordinary quest some 280 million miles in outer space between Mars and Jupiter.

ESA says its comet-chaser Rosetta will fly by Lutetia as close as 1,900 miles (3,200 kilometers) Saturday and will have about two hours to capture images with its high-tech cameras.

Though Lutetia was discovered some 150 years ago, for a long time it was little more than a point of light to those on Earth.

ESA says only recent high-resolution ground-based imaging has given a vague idea of the asteroid which is believed to be 83.3 miles (134 kilometers) in diameter.

Rosetta has been in space since 2004 on a mission to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.


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