Philae about to land on comet
Several times we reported on the Rosetta mission run by ESA. In August 2014 the spacecraft drew to within 100 km of the Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Tomorrow, 12 November, Rosetta’s Philae is planned to make the first-ever landing on a comet. At a planned time of 09:03 GMT (10:03 CET) when Rosetta will be approximately 22km away from the comet, the lander Philae will be separated and start to approach the surface of the comet. The touch down should follow around seven hours later, at 16:02 GMT (17:02 CET).
Due to its small size the comet has a reduced gravity. Therefore, the manoeuvre of Philae takes such a long time as the lander has to approach the comet slowly, at around walking pace, in order not to bounce when it touches the surface. Special installations will additionally keep the lander at the surface: a thruster at the upper side pushes the lander towards the ground, as soon it is landed screws will drill into the soil from the three supportng legs and fix the craft, furthermore two harpoons will additionally anchor Philae.
Over twenty years scientists have been working on that mission and over 10 years Rosetta has been flying through space. The missions is expected to clarify if water on earth derives from ice of comets and even if elementary components as organic compounds came with comets to our planet Earth.
Some nice side effects of the mission: Instruments on the space craft recorded some sound, far below human hearing, when it approached the Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in August this year (read here).
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Rosetta: The Ambition to create Space history!
Rosetta marks the beginning of a new era in Space exploration! An Era, where we are able to collect scientific data from a comet that is 4.6 billion years old, to answer one of the most intriguing questions of mankind “Where did the water on Earth come from?”.
After 957 days of hibernation. Rosetta has already taken several pictures of the comet besides information about the chemical composition and smell of 67p (Read more: The smell of a comet). Rosetta simply continues to captivate us and send our imagination into overdrive!
Rosetta had to travel more than a few billion kilometers to be within 100 kilometers of the comet 67p (Churyumov-Gerasimenko), then it advanced to 50km, 30 and now to just 10km! On November 12th, 2014, Rosetta will launch the lander “Philae” to land on the comet.
In an attempt to popularize the mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) has released a short film titled “Ambition” with colloboration with Platige Image.
The short film is inspired by the theme “Science meets Science fiction”! Well, what can I say, you got that one right, ESA! The entire Rosetta mission does feel like Science fiction! 🙂 Go Rosetta!! Rosetta is well and truly, the defining moment for Space exploration in the 21st century.