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

Article written: 4 Nov , 2014
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
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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

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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