Bearing Swedish made instruments on its path to intercept the Churyomov-Gerasimenko comet in 2014, the European Space Agency's vehicle, Rosetta, made a brief bypass of the 60-mile long asteroid Lutetia in early July.

Lutetia was previously studied only with telescopes on Earth. The visit enabled testing of two Swedish devices from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Uppsala and Kiruna. The Swedish instruments attempted to detect surges in the solar wind caused by the asteroid, but data sent to the bases in Sweden showed none present. Swedish space experts reasoned that this anticipated lack of measurable surges was due to the closeness of Rosetta to the asteroid.


The Lutetia asteroid was discovered in 1852 by Hermann Goldschmidt, a German artist and astronomer, who used only a small telescope from a balcony in Paris. The Latin name of the French capital was given to the asteroid, which was the 21st ever discovered, and today, this heavenly body's official full name is "21 Lutetia."

In 2008, the European space vehicle, which was launched in 2004, made its first of two planned surveys en route to the comet, which that time focused on Steins asteroid. In addition to the wide array of devices of which the two Swedish instruments are include, the solar energy powered Rosetta space probe carries with a small lander that will attempt to reach and measure the surface of the icy comet.