Watch Rosetta lander Philae’s comet landing attempt here

Today, November 12, 2014, spacecraft Rosetta’s Philae probe is set to make the first-ever landing on a comet when it touches down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The Philae lander has separated from the Rosetta orbiter, and is now on its way to becoming the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet.

Separation was confirmed at ESA’s Space Operation Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany at 09:03 GMT. It takes the radio signals from the transmitter on Rosetta 28 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth, so separation actually occurred in space at 08:35 GMT.

The first signal from Philae is expected as soon as the lander establishes a communication link with Rosetta. Philae cannot send its data to Earth directly – it must do it via Rosetta.

Once the link has been established, the lander will relay via Rosetta a status report of its health, along with the first science data. This will include images taken of the orbiter shortly after separation.

The descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko will take around seven hours, during which the lander will take measurements of the environment around the comet. It will also take images of the final moments of descent.

Confirmation of a successful touchdown is expected in a one-hour window centred on 16:02 GMT / 17:02 CET / 11:02am EST / 8:02am PST. The first image from the surface is expected some two hours later at approximately 18:00 GMT / 19:00 CET / 1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST

Follow this historic event via live webcast here:

23 Comments

    1. But… but… how is this happening? According to ALL of the wise people on this forum government can’t do ANYTHING without screwing it up. Government is TOTALLY incompetent. This must be science fiction! /s

        1. Errr… the ESA IS a government agency, just like NASA is a government agency. Worse (for you) it is an intergovernmental agency with 20 participating countries, some of which – gasp – are actually socialist. Sorry that doesn’t fit your Tea Party narrative and now you are left trying to figure out how 20 governments got together and landed a spacecraft on a comet 500 million miles away when all governments are incompetent and the enemy of everything that is good. Maybe you should try to get your daily talking points from a news source other than Fox (or MDN).

          1. The only reason to bring politics into this is to troll. At that it wasn’t very good. Landing on a comet is an amazing feat for humanity that will hopefully lead to answers about the past.

            1. 1Racer and jt016: I will grant you that what was initially was an attempt at humor turned sour, and I apologize for that.

              And as somebody who used to do work for NASA, I have nothing but huge admiration for this spaceflight accomplishment by a government agency. 🙂

    1. A long time ago there was a Space Shuttle simulator available for the Macintosh. It was written in MS-BASIC. We played with it (it was quite interesting) always keeping ourselves for starting an orbital burn and being told “Target of gosub not found at line 21000.”

    1. After all the dignitaries had their say, they went back to get an update from the Landing Control Center. The fellow there was a little more circumspect in his comments (being an engineer!). He said the lander had signaled impact, and the accelerometers indicated 4cm/sec less than was expected, but that the harpoons did not fire. I’m sure all is fine, but his remarks did leave open the notion that the lander glanced off the comet! Fortunately, pictures start arriving in an hour…

    1. Lol! That was awesome! Makes me want to don a wig and put on a pair on nicker-bocker pants with buckle shoes. Then go check me fence line to be sure the savages aren’t pinching the livestock. Where’s the bleeding tommy’s when you need ’em.

      Go Apple!

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