This November week brings us an exciting space event to follow, unique in kind. ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta, that has successfully reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last August, will try, for the first time ever, to land its Philae probe on the comet surface. Difficult? You bet it is.
Upon touch down, Philae lander will obtain the first images ever taken from a comet’s surface, performing drillings and studying its terrain’s composition. It is expected the probe will remain functioning for two-and-a-half days, while Rosetta will keep orbiting around the comet through 2015, following its behaviour whilst it approaches the sun and then moves away.
The main issues are represented by uneven surface of the comet, its low gravity and the fact that Philae’s landing system has no way to manouver at the last minute. It has to make it right straight from the descent phase.
“This comet is very, very rough. But this is what we have, and this is what we are trying to do. We have to be a bit lucky as well.” (Andreas Accomazzo, Rosetta operations manager at ESA).
Provided all goes well, landing is estimated at 11:02 a.m. EST (16:02 GMT) on Nov. 12 – i.e., tomorrow.
This is the link to follow it live: ESA #Comet Landing: http://new.livestream.com/esa/cometlanding, while more details can be found on this Google+ Hangout: https://plus.google.com/events/cjeue6sjne4i9so22o27mtcvb4g
Enjoy the show!