The Philae (fee-LAY) lander is scheduled to touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today (November 12, 2014) at 10:35 a.m. EST (15:35 UTC). We on Earth – 300 million miles (500 million km) away – won’t know the lander has set down successfully until a signal is received back at about 11:02 a.m. EST (16:02 UTC). Both NASA and ESA will provide live online coverage of this first-ever attempted landing on a comet.
Here are some times to pay attention to, if you want to watch the event live.
– Overall, NASA’s live coverage is from 9 to 11:30 a.m. EST (1400 to 1630 UTC).
– NASA’s live commentary will include excerpts of the ESA coverage from 9-10 a.m. EST (1400 to 1500 UTC).
– NASA will continue carrying ESA’s commentary from 10-11:30 a.m. EST (1500 UTC to 16:30 UTC).
– ESA’s live coverage began yesterday (November 11) a day before the landing, at 2 p.m. EST (1900 UTC). Watch ESA’s coverage here.
Rosetta spacecraft will do the equivalent of transferring an object from one speeding bullet to another, when it tries to place its Philae lander on its comet. Read more about the mission’s dramatic attempt to land on a comet here.
After landing, Philae will obtain the first images ever taken from a comet’s surface. It also will drill into the surface to study the composition and witness close up how a comet changes as its exposure to the sun varies.
Philae can remain active on the surface for approximately two-and-a-half days. Its “mothership” – the Rosetta spacecraft – will remain in orbit around the comet through 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies of the comet as it approaches the sun for its July 2015 perihelion (closest point), and then moves away.
Comets are considered primitive building blocks of the solar system that are literally frozen in time. They may have played a part in “seeding” Earth with water and, possibly, the basic ingredients for life.
Here’s the link for NASA’s coverage: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
Here’s the link for ESA’s coverage: http://www.esa.int/rosetta
Bottom line: Both NASA and ESA will provide live online coverage on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 of the Rosetta mission’s scheduled landing of a probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA will also provide coverage beginning on Tuesday, November 11. Details in this post.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.