The Rosetta spacecraft will soon land on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in a matter of hours. The grandiose event has been scheduled for today, 12th of November at 10:35 a.m EST (15:35 GMT). This will mark the very first time where a spacecraft lands on a comet. Watch live below.
Rosetta has been following the comet since August. It will now finally release its lander named Philae onto the surface of the comet. Philae will soft-land on the comet, and this will be the first instance ever that a comet has been successfully approached in this way; otherwise, in the past, crashes have happened in such attempts. The comet will be the 8th heavenly body floating in our solar system to be landed on.
The comet is found around 500 million kilometers away from our own planet. It is thought to contain 4.5 billion years old substances that have come from the origin of the solar system. Rosetta has spent the last few months chasing it, trying to find an appropriate site to land. The landing site goes by the name of Agilkia.
Rosetta has, during that time, taken a number of amazing photographs of the comet, showing great cliffs and boulders forming part of the landscape of the comet. It has also captured sounds being emitted from the space body: the frequency of the sound was increased so that the human ear can hear what has been called the “song of the comet”.
Once Philae lands on the comet, it will take more photographs, and drill into it to look for the materials that are many billion years old. But, before that, the researchers are to go through hours of suspense and stress as they contemplate the risk of a crash or any other failure.
What adds further to the stress is that any happening regarding Philae and its landing will only reach our planet 28 minutes and 20 seconds later, when the signals find their way to us. Hopefully, Philae will land without being knocked over by some small boulder that could tip it off balance. By 11:02 a.m EST (16:02 GMT), it will be known if Philae has reached its destination safely.