Rosetta Landing Date Confirmed

Have you heard about Rosetta, and no I’m not talking about some fictitious magical stone or a Harry potter movie, I’m talking about the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe that was launched on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket. So why am I getting all excited? Well if you haven’t been paying attention to the news reports let me fill you in.

Humankind achieved an amazing millstone in our shared space exploration history on the 6th of August 2014 when the Rosetta probe after a 10 year journey became the first human made object to be put into a comet’s orbit. As if this feat was not amazing enough another first for our species will be happening soon as the probe also has a robotic lander (Philae) that will attempt to land on the comets surface, giving scientists front row seats to this ancient piece of cosmic debris and all of its secrets.

Philae Landing Site
Philae Landing Site

“The comet is a beautiful but dramatic world – it is scientifically exciting, but its shape makes it operationally challenging,” Project manager Stephan Ulamec said. After examining hundreds of pictures of the comet, scientists have chosen what they believe is a relatively smooth section for the landing on the 11th of November.

The lander will attempt to harpoon the comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the designated site and once it has secured its self it will drill 30cm holes and extract pristine and untouched elements, studying them with its on-board chemical analyser.

The comet to scale in L.A.
The comet to scale in L.A.

So why spend billions of dollars and thousands of man hours to chase down and land on a comet that is 440 million kilometres away from earth? Well it’s not just for bragging rights, although they certainly do get them for pulling off this intensely difficult mission, it’s to answer some fundamental questions about the origins of these lumbering beast and the origins of our solar system. Already researchers are surprised at how dry this comet is and are busy analysing the multitudes of data coming back from Rosetta

Fingers crossed for November 11th 2014

Stay Curious – C.Costigan

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