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Rosetta update: Philae's landing site chosen and a 3D model of the Rosetta mission!

Having analysed all the landing site options in depth, the European Space Agency (ESA) has finally made its choice for the landing site for Rosetta's probe, Philae. After shortlisting five probable sites earlier, the ESA had to go back to its longer list of probable landing sites after the sites were found not be be safe for landing Philae

After much deliberation and rethinking,  the ESA is looking at site J as the possible landing place for
Photo credit: ESA
Philae and will now make its decision final by September 26 after completing trajectory analysis. If our readers recollect, the landing mission of Philae is going to be completely autonomous with no possibility of real time maneuvering after the probe leaves Rosetta. The ESA therefore needs to be absolutely sure that the landing site is perfect for probe, not only to land, but also have sufficient lighting for Philae to be able to charge its batteries and continue his analysis of the comet's surface after landing. Also, site C has been chosen as backup landing site in case, site J does not receive a final 'Go' on the 26th.

Meanwhile, in addition to sending back some excellent pictures of the comet 67P, Rosetta has also completed analysis of the gases that the comet has been releasing as it approaches the Sun. Rosetta has found methane, methonal, Carbon di-oxide and water in these gases, all constituents that would be required to make amino acids, the building blocks of proteins in our body. It will be up to Philae to check amino acids in their native forms are actually present on this comet. While Rosetta  has found hydrogen and oxygen separately, water, is strangely missing from the surface of the comet.

For now, Rosetta is about 30 km away from the comet and is making its way to get as close to 1 km to the comet, before she let's Philae go. This is expected to happen mid- November, so keep following our blog to get these timely updates.

And if you cannot wait to see what will happen in November, here is an excellent 3D model of the Rosetta mission that marks its progress so far and its milestones ahead. Not only is it a great looking model, its interactive too! So, give it a try and tell us how you find it. The creators of this visualization at INOVE will like that too! Thank you, Michal Saldon at INOVE for bringing this to our notice and if you like this, there is another visualization of Comet Siding Spring which will have a close encounter with Mars this October. 





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