Come November 12, the European Space Agency (ESA) will be landing a spacecraft on comet, the first of its kind. The main purpose of this mission is to further conduct research into the solar system’s history as it predates 4.6 billion years of existence, and to better understand our solar system with a view to conquer it.
The ESA’s Rosetta mission will deploy the Philae, its lander, to land on Comet on the stated date, and this is largely because its landing site is based out of one of the comet’s smaller lobes, and a larger lobe also serves as the backup in case of anything. Moreover, the ESA has chosen to land the spacecraft on SiteJ, Philae’s landing site, because most of the terrain has slopes that are less than 30 degrees when compared to its vertical aspects, and the site also has few boulders which would have been an impediment. In addition to this, the chosen terrain also receives good illumination that could recharge the Philae on daily basis over its 64-hour battery span.
In order to make the venture a great success, the team at ESA has been making detailed analysis of plans and flight trajectories as well as travel and landing timings for the Rosetta to deliver the lander within the estimated time. And in order to forestall any eventualities, both the primary landing site and the backup site on the large lobe will be used to land the spacecraft. It is also estimated that the Rosetta will land on SiteJ after Philae has traveled seven hours at distance of 22.5 km from within the center of the comet.
However, it is expected that ESA will provide final confirmations of travel and landing information on October 14 after it rises from its Lander Operations Readiness Review meeting.