In 1986, Giotto's encounter with Comet Halley provided the first ever opportunity to take images of a comet nucleus. The images were obtained with the Halley Multicolour Camera on Giotto.
An artist’s impression of Rosetta orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta’s 11-year expedition began in March 2004, with an Ariane 5 launch from Kourou in French Guiana, and the spacecraft was then sent on its way towards the outer Solar System. The long journey includes three gravity assists at Earth (2004, 2007, 2009), one at Mars (2007), and two asteroid encounters: (2867) Steins (2008) and (21) Lutetia (2010).
Rosetta will reach the comet in 2014, and will be the first mission ever to orbit a comet’s nucleus and to deliver a lander, called Philae, on its surface.