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  I watched Rosetta launch into space
Updated 02 March 2004, 17.29

After several setbacks Iona finally got to watch space probe Rosetta launch into space.

Here she reports on what it was like.

"On Tuesday I finally watched the Rosetta Lander probe launch into space, after several delayed launches.

Rosetta's mission will be to chase down a comet, land on it and take samples of it. It'll then send the information back to scientists on Earth.

Although Rosetta actually took off from French Guiana in South America, I was allowed to watch it via a satellite link up at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) close to where I live.

The RAL has got a special connection with Rosetta - it built and tested the mini lab on board the craft.

The pictures from South America were beamed live to the RAL and we watched them on a big screen.

It was really exciting as it was a new experience for me - I've never seen anything like that before and I was really surprised at how quickly the spacecraft went up into the air.

The pictures were clear at the beginning, then it hit the clouds and it all went a bit fuzzy and dark.

Discover secrets

The Rosetta won't reach the comet until 2014. After all the comet is over 420 million miles from Earth.

But when it does it could send back the secrets behind the birth of our solar system and the creation of life on Earth.

The reason it takes so long is because it has to fly by Earth three times and Mars once so it can get enough power and energy to travel to the comet.

It's a really important mission because it could tell us how life came to Earth.

Long and tricky journey

But it's a difficult journey because Rosetta could get lost as it has to pass through the comet belt in space twice.

And it's an 11-year journey to the comet.

I'll be 22-years-old by the time Rosetta lands - twice the age I am now - and I'm not really sure what I'll be up to by then!

But I think I'll still be following what the probe gets up to because reporting on Rosetta has been a very important and exciting experience for me. "

Iona, 11, Woolton Hill

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