The European Space Agency is gearing up to land its lander which goes by the name Philae, on a comet come Nov. 11. The lander is currently riding on the Rosetta Spacecraft, and at the moment; the space agency is still pondering on where to make the landing.
However, the European Space Agency recently revealed that it aims to release the planned landing areas on Sept. 15, and if everything goes well, the landing will be made on Nov. 11. Bear in mind that anything can change by now until then, so the date could be pushed back without warning.
The comet in question is called Comet 67P or Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the landing will mark the first time that any space agency in the world has ever attempted a soft landing on a comet. The last time we heard of a probe landing on a comet was when NASA crashed its Deep Impact spacecraft into a comet back in 2005.
For the past eight months, the Rosetta spacecraft has spent a lot of time near Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it allowed the European Space Agency to study the comet. Scientists are interested in the comet’s strange composition, as its shape is similar to that of a duck, and it has two distinct sides to it.
We’ve come to understand that investigators have located five possible landing site candidates on the comet. Most of them are located on the smallest section of the two lobes. However, it is not yet certain if any of these sections will be used for landing, as the agency requires more time to figure out if these areas are safe enough.
Time is running out though, as Sept. 15 is only days away; and before that, Nov. 11 is right before our eyes.
We understand that once Philae lands on the surface of the comet, it will work for just a few weeks. Rosetta will be nearby feeding transmission to Philae; this will be done until August 2015.
The main goal here is to find out how comets are seen as the building blocks of the solar system, and Earth itself. Furthermore, scientists want to know how comets react as they venture closer to the sun, though we are not sure for what purpose this information is needed.
The Rosetta spacecraft was launched ten years ago by the European Space Agency to get close to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft has traveled over 4 billion miles to reach its destination, and now that it is there, the agency doesn’t have room for an overabundance of mistakes.