The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta Satellite’s historic mission to deploy and land the probe lander Philae on to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is now set for Nov, 12th, 2014.The Rosetta satellite has traveled and explored across the solar system and even traversed through two asteroids but is the first of its kind to rendezvous alongside a comet, an achievement far beyond the expectation of the space program. After a hibernation period from June 2011 the craft was reawakened and set on course as of January of this year to meet the comet.
Arriving at the comet in August the Rosetta has traveled at the speeds of 60,000 km/h as it races alongside the icy giant drawing nearer and nearer and now sits at a distance of ten kilometers as it prepares to launch the probe in the coming days.The orbiting space craft will sustain another year of space travel with the comet and provide close observation of the comet at is evolves during its celestial journey.
The Rosetta as dropped from a distance of 100 km to 50, 30 into a 10 km range exceeding the satellites distance capability. This close range encounter has brought fourth new data and images that have and continue to amazed researchers with every new package received.As of today the mother ship remains in excellent condition and has begun to fire up the probe lander in preparation of dispatching the robot this coming Wednesday. The Rosetta Satellite is set to maintain an active state while it undergoes priming before initiating the deployment commands.
The Rosetta’s current path runs at an arcing distance of 30 km and will aid its mission as ground control continues to gauge the precise point of historic landing on the comet set on a predetermined time on Wednesday. Ground control must access the conditions in order to time the thrusters to the exact moment of separation of the lander. With the Comets rough terrain already an underlining issue, the European space agency navigation operators in Darmstadt Germany are preparing to receive the necessary information for the vessel to set the parameters prior to deployment of Philae.
Much of the Rosetta’s mission since its arrival has surrounded finding suitable footing for the probe to land. According to the ESA’s website countdown clock, the Rosetta is set to release the probe at 8:35 UTC on Wednesday. Philae is expected to land at a velocity of 1 meter per second and it is has been equipped with small gas thruster, landing gear comprised of harpoons ready to fire, and foot screws to stabilize upon contact.
Upon Rosetta’s mission to successfully dispatch and land the robot Philae, history will be made and pave a new celestial path of space exploration broadening the little known scope of comet and asteroid orbits. Regardless of the missions outcome, ESA claims that the Rosetta satellite will continue to journey along side 67P gathering as much intel as possible until the craft can on longer continue or is destroyed.
by Ernesto Perez
Photo by Sweety187 – Flickr License