Philae's landing site, dubbed Agilkia, as seen by the Rosetta spacecraft on Oct. 30, 2014. The spacecraft was 26.8 km (16.7 miles) from the comet's center when the picture was taken. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Comet Landing Countdown: Why ‘Agilkia’ Is The New Name For Philae Touchdown Site

4 Nov , 2014 by

After sifting through 8,000 entries in multiple languages — even in Esperanto! — the contest to name Philae’s landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko has resulted in an Egyptian-themed name.

The European Space Agency lander will touch down on the comet on a site dubbed “Agilkia”, which is named after an Egyptian island that hosts the Temple of Isis and other buildings that previously were on the island Philae. The buildings were moved due to the Aswan dams flooding Philae in the past century.

Agilkia, which was voted for by more than 150 people, fits in perfectly with ESA’s decision to informally name features on the comet after Egyptian names. Mission planners for the Rosetta orbiter and its lander, Philae, previously dubbed the site “J” before the landing contest was announced.

NAVCAM image of the comet on 21 September, which includes a view of primary landing site J. Click for more details and link to context image. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

NAVCAM image of the comet on 21 September, which includes a view of primary landing site J. Click for more details and link to context image. (Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

“The decision was very tough,” stated steering committee chair Felix Huber, who is with the DLR German Aerospace Center. “We received so many good suggestions on how to name Site J, and we were delighted with such an enthusiastic response from all over the world. We wish to thank all participants for sharing their great ideas with us.”

Alexandre Brouste from France was voted the overall winner and will be invited to follow the Nov. 12 landing live at ESA’s Space Operations Control Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The landing is expected to take place around 12 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. UTC), and you can follow the livestream here.

For more details on how Philae will sail to the surface, check out this past Universe Today story.

Source: European Space Agency

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