Friday, September 12, 2014

ESA Rosetta at Comet 67/P: 5 Philae Landing sites proposed

The target drop zone for a historic landing on a comet in deep space by a European spacecraft will be unveiled this month after weeks of scrutiny to scout out the perfect location.

Scientists with the European Space Agency will reveal the comet landing site target for Philae, a lander riding aboard the agency's Rosetta spacecraft, on Sept. 15.

If all goes well, the Philae lander will touch down on its target, the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, on Nov. 11.

The comet landing will mark the first time any space agency has attempted a soft landing on a comet, although NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft deliberately crashed a small probe into a different comet in 2005.

Rosetta has spent the past month at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to help ESA scientists learn more about the comet's strange composition.

The comet has two distinct sides to it, and a shape that reminds some investigators of a rubber duck.

Philae candidate landing sites 

Credit: ESA

Five candidate sites were identified on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during the Landing Site Selection Group meeting held 23–24 August 2014.

The approximate locations of the five regions are marked on these OSIRIS narrow-angle camera images taken on 16 August from a distance of about 100 km.

The comet nucleus is about 4 km across.

The sites were assigned a letter from an original pre-selection of 10 possible sites identified A through J. The lettering scheme does not signify any ranking.

Three sites (B, I and J) are located on the smaller of the two lobes of the comet and two sites (A and C) are located on the larger lobe.

ESA’s Rosetta mission will attempt to to land its Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014.

ESA recently released their 5 top choices and on September 15th, 2014 they will announce the landing site (and its backup )

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