Discussions held to decide landing site on Comet 67P
The European Space Agency is all set to declare the landing site for Philae on Comet 67P. Along with this, the space agency will release more details of its audacious bid of a soft-landing on a comet. This would be the first such attempt in the history of space exploration.
A long round of discussions was held during the weekend in which engineers and scientists discussed at length about the exact surface on the comet where a small contact robot can land. The sites zeroed in after discussions will be announced by the agency on Monday. Eventually, a primary objective and a backup in October will lead to the last and final decision.
Though ESA is very interested in this project, it has added that this high-risk venture and any site selected will be exceptionally challenging.
Main concern is that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where soft landing is to take place is irregular in shape. The comet’s landscape comprises of deep holes and gigantic cliffs contain potentially dangerous rocks and cracks.
For the soft landing, Rosetta will dispatch the piggybacked Philae robot from a distance of about 10km to 67P. Philae is a spider-like robot that hopefully will connect with the surface at “walking pace” thereby installing screws and harpoons in an attempt to lock itself down. The whole process will be completely programmed through commands that have been uploaded several days in advance.
Dr. Christopher Carr, a principal investigator on the Rosetta Plasma Consortium instruments, said, “Everything we’ve discovered at 67P/C-G so far says that we’ve chosen a fantastic comet to visit. There’s a genuine sense of excitement within the Rosetta community, and we’re all looking forward to the year ahead”.
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