4 years ago5,000+ Views
This morning you have the first-ever chance to see a spacecraft landing on a comet - and watch it happening live! The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will be attempting the landing after a 10-year, 4-billion-mile journey. According to Wired, "Rosetta arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6, settling in an orbit around the roughly 20-trillion-pound space rock, which, if you squint, kind of looks like a rubber duck. For the last couple months, Rosetta has been studying the comet, surveying its surface and measuring the dust particles and gases around it. Scientists are finding that 67P, which stretches for about 2.5 miles at its widest, is expelling methane, ethanol, and sulfur, which might give it a rotten-egg-like stench." Rosetta released its 220-pound lander craft, Philae, on Tuesday night. It will slowly descend from a height of about 13 miles onto the landing site named Agilkia. You can watch the event unfolding by going to the linked Wired article, which includes the live webcast from the ESA’s mission control. NASA TV is also providing live coverage starting at 6:00 a.m. PST/9:00 a.m. EST Wednesday. More details from Wired: "Scientists didn’t know what the comet’s surface would be like until Rosetta got close, so they couldn’t choose a landing site ahead of time. Once the spacecraft arrived, it scoured the comet for potential places to touch down—the first time a spacecraft had to look for its own landing site. In previous missions to Mars, for instance, data from orbiting spacecraft gave scientists the luxury to spend months and years pondering their options. But Rosetta had to find a location in just six weeks. Rosetta discovered that the comet was more dusty than it was icy. To maximize the chances of a successful landing, scientists modeled how Philae would land on different kinds of soil—some harder, some softer. Still, there’s a lot of uncertainty. The comet is a rugged place, covered with jagged edges and huge boulders. Philae can’t steer, so if there’s a rock in the way, there isn’t much anyone can do. “That’s the part that worries me most,” said Andrea Accomazzo, flight director of the European Space Operations Centre, in an online media briefing last week. Once Philae is released, it will float freely toward the comet for seven hours before gently dropping onto the surface. If all goes well, mission controllers will receive confirmation of a successful landing at 8:02 a.m. PST/11:02 a.m. EST." What a cool opportunity to something never before attempted - in space!
What man can do is so amazing. Wonder what will be the next great accomplishment!
12:39am PST They just explained that it takes the sun's light 8 minutes to get to the earth from the sun. It takes 28 minutes for the signal from Rosetta to reach the earth - just for some perspective on how far away it is.
12:36am PST Apparently they're now at a point where there is "no going back."
They got a go-ahead on the landing! Now they start the maneuvers...
Unfortunately I didn't have the ability to keepil doing live updates, obviously - but I'm happy to report that Philae landed safely after only a minor bounce. Stephan Ulamec, head of the lander operation joked that they in fact landed twice! :) I will write an update in a separate card and link it here. Hooray for new upcoming discoveries thanks to Rosetta, Philae and the great folks at the ESA!
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