Update: We’re Down! Go Rosetta! Go Philae!

Update: At 10:03 AM CST, the European Space Agency Rosetta control room erupted in hugs, cheers, and a cry of “We’re down! We’re down!”

Philae on Descent as Seen from Rosetta Credit: ESA

Philae on Descent as Seen from Rosetta
Credit: ESA

Original Story

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission is on track to attempt a historic first soft landing on a comet on Wednesday.  After separating from the the Rosetta spacecraft overnight, the Philae lander will allow the weak gravity of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to slowly pull it down towards a planned “landing” at 11 AM EST.

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from 10 KM  away Credit : ESA

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from 10 KM away
Credit : ESA

Philae, which is named after an island in the river Nile, will use a combination of two “harpoons” and upward firing thrusters to hold itslef against the comet’s surface as screws in the landing legs dig in to gain a foothold. It is a maneuver NASA describes as “ridiculously difficult.”

Coverage is available on the European Space Agency’s website here.

This article will be updated as details come in.

Posted in: Space Science

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