ESA has given the green light for its Rosetta mission to deliver its lander, Philae, to the primary site on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November, in the first-ever attempt at a soft touchdown on a comet.
Philae’s landing site, currently known as Site J and located on the smaller of the comet’s two ‘lobes’, was confirmed on 14 October following a comprehensive readiness review.
Since the arrival, the mission has been conducting an unprecedented survey and scientific analysis of the comet, a remnant of the early phases of the Solar System’s 4.6 billion-year history.
At the same time, Rosetta has been moving closer to the comet: starting at 100 km on 6 August, it is now just 10 km from the centre of the 4 km-wide body. This allowed a more detailed look at the primary and backup landing sites in order to complete a hazard assessment, including a detailed boulder census.
The decision that the mission is ‘Go’ for Site J also confirms the timeline of events leading up to the landing.
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