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Rosetta’s Philae has a new address: Comet 67P! #CometLanding

The European Space Agency has landed a probe on the surface of the comet 67P. In other words, Rosetta chased a comet for 10 years, traveling over 5 Billion kilometers, hibernated for 957 days to get to this point where it could then launch Philae, a 100 kg robot that has successful touched down on the surface of that comet 67P. Philae has a new address: Comet 67P.

A man-made object is now drilling holes on a surface of a comet that is a few billions years old, searching for clues that will help answer the question “What was the role of comets with respect to life on Earth?”. We now have a probe on the surface of a comet! Amazing feeling isn’t it! I am sure it is going to take sometime for the feeling to sink in.

Philae_descent

Image credit: ESA

Social media was certainly abuzz with excitement. #CometLanding was trending on twitter today and there were more than 500,000 people watching the live webcast by ESA when the success of Philae was just being announced. It was heartening to see so many media channels and newspapers report about the Rosetta Mission at such depth and details, which means I just have to link the articles for all you science fans out there, who want to know more about the technology and instruments behind the mission.

Here are some useful links

  • Want to know where Rosetta is?: link
  • All about the Rosetta mission: link
  • Rosetta flight segment: link
  • NASA’s article “Exploring comets and asteroids”: link
  • Rosetta mission videos: link
  • Rosetta teaching resources for primary level: link
  • Books about the Rosetta mission: link link2

The fun stuff

  • Rosetta fan shop: link
  • Rosetta social media kit: link

The Rosetta mission is certainly a big success and the Philae’s landing today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of human space exploration! Congrats everyone, we now have a probe on the surface of a comet!

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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).

Follow this historic event via live updates posted in the following channels:

http://new.livestream.com/esa/cometlanding

View the mission’s website:

http://rosetta.esa.int/

FB

https://www.facebook.com/RosettaMission?_fb_noscript=1

 

Rosetta_s_trajectory_12_November_node_full_image_2

 

 

The sounds of the space. Source: ESA

The sounds of the space. Source: ESA

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