Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: Counting down before the landing of Rosetta mission on the comet

October 24, 2014

Counting down before the landing of Rosetta mission on the comet

Dear readers and followers,

After a 10 year journey of some seven billion kilometres, the Rosetta mission is now heading towards its next major milestone : setting the lander Philae on a comet. Rosetta is a robotic space probe built and launched by the +European Space Agency, ESA to perform a detailed study of comet called 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko with both an orbiter and lander module (Philae).

On November 12th 2014, a lander is scheduled to touch down on a comet for the first time in the history of spaceflight. “We don’t know exactly what awaits us there,” says lander Project Manager Stephan Ulamec from the +DLR, German Aerospace Center .

Philae’s landing site, currently known as Site J, is located on the smaller of the comet’s two ‘lobes’, with a backup site on the larger lobe. The sites were selected just six weeks after Rosetta arrived at the comet on August 6th, following its 10-year journey through the Solar System. Site J was chosen unanimously over four other candidate sites as the primary landing site because the majority of terrain within a square kilometre area has slopes of less than 30º relative to the local vertical and because there are relatively few large boulders.

Credit image: +European Space Agency, ESA 

Landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will enable scientists to carry out experiments in situ for the first time. Comets are considered to be witnesses to the birth of the Solar System. Will the surface of the comet be in a primordial state? Do comets show evidence of prebiotic molecules and water, and did they therefore play a role in the origin of life on Earth? The Rosetta mission is expected to help answer such questions.

  Credit video: +DLR, German Aerospace Center 

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Source: +DLR, German Aerospace Center

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