For the first time in the history of mankind a spacecraft will try to land on a comet which is heading towards deep space on November 12th. The ESA spacecraft Rosetta will attempt to set its lander called Philae on the comet which is hurtling towards the sun at the speed of 10.4 miles per second. Rosetta is about 280 miles from the comet.
The Comet 67P is composed of two lobes and is joined by a narrow neck. The comet looks like a rubber duck. European Space agency has identified a spot which it has christened ‘Site J’ on the smaller lobe or head of the comet where it will attempt to land the probe. ESA has also identified another spot ‘Site C’ which is located on the larger lobe.
If everything goes according to plan, Rosetta will release the lander Philae at 03:35 EST on November 12 at a distance of 22.5 km from the center of the comet. The ‘lander’ is scheduled to soft land on the comet in about seven hours.
If there is some problem and plan B is to be used ,the separation will take place at 1304 GMT (8:04 am EST ), at a distance of around 12.5 km, to land four hours later, according to an ESA press statement.
ESA Rosetta us equipped with 11 cameras and sensors and have taken breathtaking pictures of the comet. Experts are hoping to get even better and bigger discoveries when the lander, Philae lands on the comet. Philae is loaded with 10 instruments which includes,
- APXS (Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer) to detect alpha particles and X-rays, and will be useful in determining the composition of the comet.
- COSAC or Cometary Sampling and Composition, the combined gas chromatograph
- Ptolemy to measure key stable isotope ratios of key volatiles
- ÇIVA or Comet Nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer
- ROLIS or Rosetta Lander Imaging System, a CCD camera
- CONSERT or Comet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission
- MUPUS or Multi-Purpose Sensors for Surface and Sub-Surface Science
- ROMAP or Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor, a magnetometer and plasma monitor
- SESAME or Surface Electric Sounding and Acoustic Monitoring Experiments
- SD2 (Drill, Sample, and Distribution subsystem