NASA will help ESA with the Rosetta as the satellite includes three scientific instruments developed by the U.S. space agency. The comet hunter's payload includes 21 scientific instrument packages, 11 on the satellite itself and 10 on the Philae lander. According to the ESA, Rosetta "carries instruments for remote sensing and radio science, and instruments to study the composition, mass distribution and dust flux of the comet’s nucleus, as well as the comet plasma environment and its interaction with the solar wind."


Rosetta will see some dramatic changes in comet 67p over the course of 16 months. "Old 67P is expected to transform from a small, frozen world into a roiling mass of ice and dust, complete with surface eruptions, mini-earthquakes, basketball-sized, fluffy ice particles and spewing jets of carbon dioxide and cyanide," said NASA in a statement.


Scientists from around the world have worked on Rosetta since 1993, and this level of international cooperation will continue as the satellite rendezvous with the comet. Sam Gulkis, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and principal investigator for the NASA-designed MIRO, the Microwave Instrument for the Rosetta Orbiter, said the scientific instruments "will all work together to create the most complete picture of a comet to date, telling us how the comet works, what it is made of, and what it can tell us about the origins of the solar system."


A video discussing the history of spacecraft chasing comets, courtesy of ESA, can be viewed below.