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ScienceCasts: Mission to Land on a Comet

Rosetta will enter orbit around 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and land a probe on it for a front row seat as the comet heads toward the sun.
Reveille is on or around New Year's Day 2014, when the spacecraft begins a months-long program of self-checkups.
If all goes well, in August of the same year, Rosetta will enter orbit around 67P's nucleus and begin scanning its surface for a landing site. Once a site is chosen, the spacecraft will descend as low as 1 km to deploy the lander.
The lander’s name is “Philae” after an island in the Nile, the site of an obelisk that helped decipher—you guessed it—the Rosetta Stone.
Touchdown is scheduled for November 2014, when Philae will make the first ever controlled landing on a comet's nucleus.
"When we land, the comet could already be active!" says Alexander. Because a comet has little gravity, the lander will anchor itself with harpoons. “The feet may drill into something crunchy like permafrost, or maybe into something rock solid,” she speculates.
Once it is fastened, the lander will commence an unprecedented first-hand study of a comet’s nucleus. Among other things, it will gather samples for examination by automatic onboard microscopes and take panoramic images of the comet’s terrain from ground level.
Meanwhile, orbiting overhead, the Rosetta spacecraft will be busy, too. Onboardsensors will map the comet’s surface and magnetic field, monitor the comet’s erupting jets and geysers, measure outflow rates, and much more. Together, the orbiter and lander will build up the first 3D picture of the layers and pockets under the surface of a comet.


Added: Feb-3-2012 Occurred On: Feb-3-2012
By: scarfilm
In:
Science and Technology
Tags: rosetta, 67p, 2014, comet, nasa, philae
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