November 11, 2014

Rosetta: Philae Mission's Comet 67P Landing on Agilkia - Full Livestream Coverage

Today, November 12, 2014, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft will release its Philae lander to make space history: the first soft-landing on a comet.

If all goes well, Philae will make a seven-hour descent from Rosetta to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and land at 10:35 a.m. EST (1535 GMT), with confirmation expected by 11:03 a.m. EST. Follow Rosetta’s Mission historic Comet landing:

The Ancient Egyptian names for the Rosetta mission.

Rosetta, Philae, Agilkia, Ptolemy and OSIRIS (ISIS)

The Rosetta spacecraft was named after the famous Rosetta stone, whose discovery in 1799 enabled historians to unlock the secrets of hieroglyphics.

The Philae lander was named after an ancient obelisk found on the island of Philae near Aswan. The obelisk was inscribed in both Greek and Egyptian characters.

The landing site is named for Agilkia Island, an island on the Nile River in the south of Egypt. A complex of Ancient Egyptian buildings, including the famous Temple of Isis, was moved to Agilkia from the island of Philae when the latter was flooded during the building of the Aswan dams last century. The relocation of the temples of Philae Island to Agilkia Island was an ambitious technical endeavor performed in the 1960s and 1970s to preserve an archaeological record of our ancient history.

Other ancient Egyptian references in the space mission include Ptolemy (after Ptolemy V, whose name appears on both the Rosetta stone and the Philae obelisk) Claudius Ptolemy was a Greco-Egyptian writer of Alexandria, known as a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer.

And the on-board camera OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and InfraRed Remote Imaging System.)

OSIRIS is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.


Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set. Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

Ahead of the historic landing, Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium (RPC) has uncovered a mysterious ‘song’ that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is singing into space. The comet seems to be emitting a ‘song’ in the form of oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment. It is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased in this recording.

It will take several hours for it to reach the surface. Because of the comet’s extremely low gravity, landing gear will absorb the small forces of landing while ice screws in the probe’s feet and a harpoon system will lock the probe to the surface. At the same time a thruster on top of the lander will push it down to counteract the impulse of the harpoon imparted in the opposite direction.


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