At last, a European spacecraft airborne beside a comet in deep space has a place to land after a long journey of 10-year through the solar system.
The target landing spotted on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for the Philae Lander riding aboard the agency’s Rosetta mission, European Space Agency on Monday (Sept. 15) disclosed. Mission controllers pulled out a drop zone named “Site J” as the primary target from 5 latent landing sites shortlisted in late August. However, if all goes fine, the Lander will touch the ground on the comet on Nov. 11.
Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager at the DLR German Aerospace Center supposed of Site J through a news conference today (Sept. 15), “There are flat areas, but there is also rough terrain,” Unbelievable Comet Photos by Rosetta and Philae depicts, “There are some cliffs, there are some boulders. It’s not a perfectly flat area as we probably would have hoped for a safe landing site.”
Philae has been vigilantly flying with Rosetta as their launch. The two spacecraft are now flying about 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) from Comet 67P/C-G, however in November; Rosetta is likely to organize Philae on a momentous trip to study the comet while attached to its surface at Site J.
According to the reports, Site J won’t be the only site used for landing. Though, The European Space Agency will host a public competition in order to name the landing site. If some sudden issue arises with Site J, a backup landing site, called “Site C,” has also been preferred.
Certainly, the main landing zone is a bright sunny county situated on the comet’s “head”, the smaller of the two lobes of the 2.5-mile-long (4 kilometer) comet. The county is in close immediacy to an area that could become dynamic as the comet starts flying nearer to the sun that might provide scientists an exceptional gaze at the way a comet works.
Jean-Pierre Bibring, a lead Lander scientist for the mission explained in a statement, “We will make the first ever in situ analysis of a comet at this site, giving us an unparalleled insight into the composition, structure and evolution of a comet. Site J in specific provides us the possibility to examine pristine material, describe the properties of the nucleus, and study the processes that drive its activity.”
Whereas mission controllers believe that Site J is the best spot for Philae to land but it doesn’t mean the landing would be an easy victory. In this notable landing, it’s the first time when a space agency has endeavored to soft-land a probe on a comet. In 2005, NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft was persistently worn-out into a diverse comet by ground controllers.
Ulamec said in a statement, “None of the candidate landing sites met all of the operational criteria at the 100 percent level, but Site J is clearly the best solution,” “As we have seen from recent close-up images, the comet is a beautiful but dramatic world it is scientifically exciting, but its shape makes it operationally challenging.”
Assignment controllers are spending weeks on learning more about how to fly with the comet and how to securely move closer to the icy body before the landing. Scientists have also chosen a backup landing site on the “body” of the comet which they name a site”C” as in case future information gathered by Rosetta shows that Site J would be too dangerous of a landing site.
In early August the $1.7 billion Rosetta mission arrived at Comet 67P/C-G, and given that scientists have been using the spacecraft’s devices to reach out the landscape of the comet in the hopes of finding a good site to set down Philae. If all goes according to plan, then on Nov. 11 Philae should be released to the comet’s surface. Philae will harpoon itself to the comet once it attains the chosen landing site. The Lander of spacecraft will study the comet from the surface while Rosetta takes measurements from track.
ESA initiates the Rosetta spacecraft and Philae into space in 2004. The probes traveled for 10 years, crossing 4 billion miles (6 billion km) of deep space before finally reaching their comet target. Rosetta is expected to travel with the comet through space until at least August 2015, when Comet 67P/C-G makes its closest approach with the sun in its 6.5-year orbit.