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Risky comet alighting by European examine will be ’7 hours of terror’


The Rosetta mission’s perspective of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 6, 2014. Rosetta’s Philae lander will try to land on a comet on Nov. 12, 2014. (ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

Landing a examine on a comet whizzing by low space isn’t easy, though this week, a European Space Agency (ESA) will try to do usually that. If successful, it will be a initial time a examine has landed on a aspect of a comet. 

The comet, that is about 2.5 miles wide, travels during speeds adult to 84,000 miles per hour.

Officials operative with ESA’s Rosetta goal are formulation to land a robotic Philae examine on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s aspect Nov. 12. You can lane Philae’s ancestral swell in live webcasts from ESA and NASA starting Nov. 11 and via a day Wednesday. Officials on Earth should know if a alighting went good by 11:02 a.m. EST on Nov. 12.

The alighting is a unsure operation.

Detailed mapping of Comet 67P/C-G usually began in August, when Rosetta arrived carrying Philae. The comet’s aspect is strewn with boulders and cracks, and Philae’s alighting complement has no proceed to scheme during a final minute. [See extraordinary images from a Rosetta mission]

It will take about 7 hours for scientists on Earth to find out if Philae’s outing to a aspect was successful. A NASA video has even dubbed that retard of time “7 hours of terror,” an loyalty to a NASA Curiosity rover’s “7 mins of terror” video that described a Mars rover’s alighting sequence.

“This comet is very, really rough,” Andreas Accomazzo, Rosetta operations manager during a European Space Agency, pronounced in a Google+ Hangout Friday (Nov. 7). “But this is what we have, and this is what we are perplexing to do. We have to be a bit propitious as well.”

First Comet Landing

If Philae’s alighting is successful, it will climax Rosetta’s decade-long tour in space. The goal is doing a initial circuit of a comet right now. Rosetta has already turn a initial booster to circuit a comet, and if Philae safely touches down on Comet 67P/C-G, a lander will be a initial to make a soothing alighting on a comet.

A comet is a tough environment. The sobriety is so low that Philae will need to muster a harpoon into a aspect in sequence to stay put on Comet 67P/C-G. During landing, a booster will face a dry sourroundings — not to mention, rocks on a surface. Success will also mostly count on how good a probe’s hardware and program perform during those final few hours on a proceed down.

Rosetta planners will spend Nov. 10 and Tuesday looking during a alighting circuit and scheming a primogenitor booster to recover Philae. One of a busiest times will be late Tuesday night, when controllers have usually 4 hours to send commands to Philae and make certain it’s prepared to go. [See some-more news about a Rosetta mission]

“We have 4 hours to put them together, check to determine they are consistent, uplink to a booster … and double-check they are OK to a spacecraft,” Accomazzo said. “It’s a flattering unenlightened set of activities we have to do.”

The devise afterwards calls for Rosetta to recover Philae Wednesday during 3:35 a.m. EST. (ESA officials on a belligerent will find out if a recover was successful 28 mins and 20 seconds later, once a vigilance reaches Earth.)

The booster is too distant divided for controllers to do anything though reason their common exhale as a examine creates a descent. ESA goal controllers should acquire a vigilance from Philae during a skirmish during about 5:53 a.m. EST. Once that vigilance is established, Rosetta can start lucent behind scholarship information collected by Philae on a proceed down to a comet’s surface.

And by about 11 a.m. EST, scientists should know if Philae reached a surface.

Rosetta will also need to make several maneuvers to stay in hold with Philae during a descent, alighting and post-landing activities. ESA combined that both Rosetta and Philae seem to be in good figure to date, so they are formulation for a best.

Not all scholarship would die with Philae

Even if Philae doesn’t successfully land, ESA anticipates that usually 20 percent of a systematic commentary approaching to be collected from a Rosetta goal would be lost. The remaining scholarship would come from a orbital mission, that is projected to sojourn active until during slightest Dec 2015 — 5 months past Comet 67P/C-G’s closest proceed to a sun.

Philae’s intensity alighting would make it a seventh plcae in that booster have overwhelmed down outward Earth. The other bodies visited embody Venus, a moon, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, and asteroids 433 Eros and Itokawa.

“It’s a very, really unsure business, though it’s a business in that we have invested a lot of expertise — a lot of technical know-how, a lot of systematic expertise and a lot of cooperation,” Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin, conduct of European Space Operations Centre communications, pronounced in a same webcast.

“Sometimes, we arise adult and consternation if this dream is going to be true,” she added. “Sometimes, we know it can go wrong. But we are prepared for each option, and are still really assured we can make it.”


Article source: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/11/11/risky-comet-landing-by-european-probe-will-be-7-hours-terror/

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