The Rosetta probe will be crash-landed on Comet 67P on Friday 30 September, the European Space Agency has confirmed.
The manoeuvre, which is expected to destroy the satellite, will bring to an end two years of investigations at the 4km-wide icy dirt-ball.
Flight controllers plan to have the cameras taking and relaying pictures during the final descent.
Sensors that “sniff” the chemical environment will also be switched on.
All other instruments will likely be off.
Flight dynamics experts have still to work out the fine details, but Rosetta will be put into a tight ellipse around the comet and commanded to drop its periapsis (lowest pass) progressively. A final burn will then put the satellite on a collision course with the duck-shaped object.
Mission managers have previously talked about bringing Rosetta down in a place dubbed “Agilkia” – the location originally chosen to land its surface robot, Philae, in November 2014.
In the event, Philae bounced a kilometre away, but Agilkia’s relatively flat terrain is an attractive option still, although other targets are being studied.
Having swept around the Sun last August, Comet 67P is currently on a trajectory that is taking it away from the inner solar system towards the orbit of Jupiter.
Today, the probe is nearly half a billion km from the Sun.
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SOURCE: BBC, Jonathan Amos