A landing vehicle launched from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta robotic space probe should land on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko today. The Rosetta was launched in 2004 and reached the comet 10 years later, on August 6 2014. It is the first spaceship to orbit a comet.
According to the ESA, the Philae lander has separated from the Rosetta orbiter, and is now on its way to the comet. Updates and live streaming video can be found on the mission’s website at rosetta.esa.int.
The landing of the Philae lander is one of two main goals of the mission. The other is for the Rosetta itself to do extensive remote surveys of the comet with 12 instruments. The Philae lander has nine instruments.
“Separation was confirmed at ESA’s Space Operation Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany at 9.03am GMT / 10.03am CET. 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 8.35am GMT / 9:35am CET,” the ESA announced in a blog post.
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(Artist impression of ESA’s Rosetta approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Comet image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)