In less than a month, on November 12, 2014, the 100-kg Philae lander will separate from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and descend several kilometers down to the dark, dusty and frozen surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, its three spindly legs and rocket-powered harpoon all that will keep it from crashing or bouncing hopelessly back out into space. It will be the culmination of a decade-long voyage across the inner Solar System, a testament to human ingenuity and inventiveness and a shining example of the incredible things we can achieve through collaboration. But first, Philae has to get there… it has to touch down safely and successfully become, as designed, the first human-made object to soft-land on the nucleus of a comet. How will the little spacecraft pull off such a daring maneuver around a tumbling chunk of icy rubble traveling over 18 km/s nearly 509 million km away? The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has released a “trailer” for the event, worthy of the best sci-fi film. Check it out below.
Want to see more? Of course you do. Keep an eye out for the 11-minute short film “Landing on a Comet – The Rosetta Mission” to be released soon on YouTube here, and follow the latest news from the Rosetta mission here (and here on Universe Today, too!)
“The reason we’re at this comet is for science, no other reason. We’re doing this to get the best science. To characterize this comet has never been done before.”
Original Material: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Credit 67P image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Music: Omega by TimMcMorris