Image depicts the primary landing site on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Image depicts the primary landing site on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko chosen for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission.
Image Credit:
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will deploy its lander, Philae, to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on Nov. 12.

Rosetta is an international mission spearheaded by the European Space Agency with support and instruments provided by NASA.

Philae’s landing site, currently known as Site J, is located on the smaller of the comet’s two “lobes,” with a backup site on the larger lobe. The sites were selected just six weeks after Rosetta’s Aug. 6 arrival at the comet, following the spacecraft’s 10-year journey through the solar system.

In that time, the Rosetta mission has been conducting an unprecedented scientific analysis of the comet, a remnant from early in the solar system’s 4.6-billion-year history. The latest results from Rosetta will be presented when Philae lands, during dedicated press briefings.

The main focus to date has been to survey 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in order to prepare for the first-ever attempt to soft-land on a comet.

The descent to the comet is passive and it is only possible to predict that the landing point will be within a “landing ellipse” (typically a few hundred yards or meters in size). For each of Rosetta’s candidate sites, a larger area — four-tenths of a square mile (one square kilometer) — was assessed. Site J was chosen unanimously as the primary landing site because the majority of terrain within an area that size has slopes of less than 30 degrees relative to the local vertical and because there are relatively few large boulders. The area also receives sufficient daily illumination to recharge Philae and continue surface science operations beyond the initial 64-hour battery-powered phase.

Over the last two weeks, the flight dynamics and operations teams at ESA have been making a detailed analysis of flight trajectories and timings for Rosetta to deliver the lander at the earliest possible opportunity.

via Rosetta to Deploy Lander on November 12 | NASA.