Ok, attention everyone following the ROSETTA mission to comet 67P – stop what you’re doing, grab your phone, or your diary, or run over to your wall planner and mark the following down:
NOVEMBER 12th – PHILAE LANDER TO LAND ON COMET 67P.
Yes, we now have a confirmed date for the historic landing of ROSETTA’s Philae lander on the surface of the comet! The time isn’t so certain, because that depends on which landing site they go for. There’s a big review of the landing team on October 14th when, after reviewing the latest and most detailed images of the landing sites available, they will decide between the Primary site, site “J”, or the back up site, Site “C”. Here are the timetables for what will happen, depending on which of those sites they go for.
SITE “J”: Philae will detach from ROSETTA at 08.35 GMT, and will land on the comet’s surface around 4 hours later. Confirmation of the landing will be received on Earth around 16.00 GMT.
SITE “C”: Philae will detach from ROSETTA at 13.04 GMT, and will land on the comet’s surface around 4 hours later. Confirmation of the landing will be received on Earth at around 17.30 GMT.
As part of yesterday’s press announcement, ESA released a new image of Site “C”. Here it is…
I’ve worked on that a little to bring out more detail, and cropped it’s a closer view of the actual landing site. Here it is, as usual click on it to enlarge it…
That’s a fascinating-looking area, isn’t it? With that enhancement it’s clear that there’s a lot of topography at the landing site, so the pictures Philae sends back should be very exciting! When we’ll actually get to see those images is another matter, of course, but I’m sure that at least one will be released to the media quickly for them to use in their reports that evening. After that? Well, we’ll see. We’re all aware of the situation re image release by now.
But anyway, November 12th… that’s going to be a heck of a day, isn’t it? Imagine how tense it’s going to be after Philae is released… after that, all everyone will be able to do is wait to hear that it’s landed safely, and we’ll all, along with everyone at ROSETTA mission control, and ESA, just have to sit and wait for Philae to phone home. If she does, wow… the roof at ESOC will lift, won’t it? If she doesn’t… well… that’s not going to happen, is it! be positive! 🙂
Seriously tho, this is going to be a huge thing if it comes off – Mankind’s first landing on a comet. The stakes are incredibly high, but the potential rewards even higher. And 67P has turned out to be an even more intriguing, even more fascinating world than we dared imagine. Here are some enhanced crops from yesterday’s released images…
Love that last image of Big Crater (my name, it hasn’t got an official one, well, as far as we know, though I’m sure it and lots of other features on 67P have been “christened” by the ROSETTA team by now), cos you can see so much detail on its floor.
Really looking forward to the landing day now, especially as the 24hr slip means I will now be able to enjoy it properly: I’ll have finished work and be back home in time for the landing now, but I would have missed it a day earlier because of my shifts, so thanks ESA! 🙂
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