Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


ROSETTA MISSION: First ever spacecraft to land on a comet




Story Summary: Wednesday 12th November 2014, ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will deploy its lander, Philae, to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday 12th November after a decade long journey travelling through space. 

Since its arrival at the comet on 6th August, 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.

Rosetta has also been moving closer and it is now just 10 km from the centre of the 4 km-wide body.

... more about:
»CET »ESA »ESOC »Flight »GMT »Press »Rosetta »Sun »spacecraft

This proximity has allowed for a more detailed look at the primary and backup landing sites in order to complete a hazard assessment, including a detailed boulder census. 

The chosen landing site for Philae is currently known as Site J and it is located on the smaller of the comet's two 'lobes'.

Site J was chosen unanimously over four other candidate sites as the primary landing site because the majority of terrain within a square kilometre area has slopes of less than 30º relative to the local vertical and because there are relatively few large boulders. The area also receives sufficient daily illumination to recharge Philae and continue surface science operations beyond the initial 64-hour battery-powered phase. 

On 12th November Rosetta will release Philae at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET at a distance of approximately 22.5 km from the centre of the comet. Landing will be about seven hours later at around 15:30 GMT/16:30 CET. 

One-way signals between Rosetta and Earth take 28 minutes and 20 seconds to arrive, that means that confirmation of separation will arrive on Earth ground stations at 09:03 GMT/10:03 CET and of touchdown at around 16:00 GMT/17:00 CET. 

After the release of Philae, Rosetta will manoeuvre up and away from the comet, before reorienting itself in order to establish communications with Philae. All being well, Rosetta and its lander will begin communications about two hours after separation. 

During the seven-hour descent, Philae will take images and conduct science experiments, sampling the dust, gas and plasma environment close to the comet. It will also take a 'farewell' image of the Rosetta orbiter shortly after separation, along with a number of images as it approaches the comet surface. It is expected that the first images from this sequence will be received on Earth several hours after separation. 

Once safely on the surface, Philae will take a panorama of its surroundings. Again, this is expected back on Earth several hours later. 

The first sequence of surface science experiments will begin about an hour after touchdown and will last for 64 hours, constrained by the lander's primary battery lifetime. Longer-term study of the comet by Philae will depend on for how long and how well the batteries are able to recharge, which in turn is related to the amount of dust that settles on its solar panels. 

In any case, it is expected that by March 2015, as the comet moves closer in its orbit towards the Sun, temperatures inside the lander will have reached levels too high to continue operations, and Philae's science mission will come to an end. 

The Rosetta orbiter's mission will continue for much longer. It will accompany the comet as it grows in activity until their closest approach to the Sun in August 2015 and then as they head back towards the outer Solar System. 

Comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when the Sun and its planets formed. By studying the gas, dust and structure of the nucleus and organic materials associated with the comet, via both remote and in situ observations, the Rosetta mission should become the key to unlocking the history and evolution of our Solar System, as well as answering questions regarding the origin of Earth's water and perhaps even life.


Since its launch from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 2 March 2004, Rosetta has travelled more than six billion kilometres, passing by Earth three times and Mars once, and flying past two asteroids.

For the most distant part of the journey, when it travelled out to the orbit of Jupiter, Rosetta was put into deep-space hibernation for 31 months, waking up on 20 January 2014 for the final leg of its epic journey to Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. 

Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its Member States and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES, and ASI. Rosetta is the first mission in history to rendezvous with a comet. It is escorting the comet as it comes close to the Sun, and will deploy a lander.



EBU will provide play out and live positions for broadcasters at ESOC, including remote connection via satellite to facilitate interviews with ESA scientists and spokespeople. Please see contacts below for bookings. 

The following ESA spokespeople will be available for interview from ESOC in Darmstadt: 

  • Alvaro Gimenez, Director Science and Robotic Exploration, ESA: English,

    French, Spanish

  • Mark McCaughrean, Senior Scientific Advisor, Directorate of Science and

    Robotic Exploration, ESA: English, German

  • Matt Taylor, Rosetta Project Scientist, ESA: English

  • Gerhard Schwehm, Former Rosetta Mission Manager, ESA: English, German

  • Fred Jansen, Rosetta Mission Manager, ESA: Dutch, English 

To request an interview please contact: 

Eduardo Castaneda Bracho 

Tel: +44 1558822009

Mob: +44 7969574673


For EBU rates and to make a booking for stand ups, playouts, pieces to camera and any other broadcasting services please contact: 

Eurovision Operations

Tel: + 41 22 717 2840


The international media event will take place at ESA's Rosetta Mission Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. 

Broadcasters interested in sending a team to Darmstadt please apply before 22:59 GMT/23:59 CET on 26 October at: 

Given the expected high demand and limits owing to logistical, security and health and safety constraints at each site, it is possible that not all applications will be successful. 

Applicants will be informed whether they have been successful or not on 30 October. 


Before the landing ESA TV will provide the following videos: 

  • Description of landing operations

  • Science so far

  • Rosetta Journey

  • Why look at comets?

These videos are available for broadcasters on ESA TV FTP at

Several Videos are also available about wake up, orbiting etc. And an index footage is being prepared covering the overall Mission operations from launch till now.

More extensive background footage is also available directly from the ESA Video Archive

Please contact Hugo Auffret +39 06 941 80877


Live coverage of Landing Operations via satellite and on the ESA webstream + Livestream (All times in CET)

10 November

15:00              Media Update                                              Live from ESOC Press Centre

11 November

10:00              Media Update                                              Live from ESOC Press Centre

20:35              Go-NoGo No. 1                                            Live from ESOC Mission Control Room

12 November

Live From ESOC Mission Control Room:

  • 01:00: Flight Dynamics Command for separation ready on ground

  • 02:00: Flight Control Team merging orbiter and lander commands

  • 02:35 Confirmation of Lander Readiness for Separation

Live from ESOC MCR, Cologne LCC , Toulouse SONC:

07:15 – 08:35           TV PROGRAMME SLOT 1 : Go/No-Go 5 for lander separation      

09:30 – 10:10           TV PROGRAMME SLOT 2 :   Lander separation scheduled at 10:03        

12:30 – 13:15           TV PROGRAMME SLOT 3 :   Science and first pictures of lander expected around 13:00

15:30 – 17:30           TV PROGRAMME SLOT 4 : Science and Landing expected at 17:00      

19:00 earliest           TV PROGRAMME SLOT 5 : Presentation of First panoramic image from Comet      

All details will be available at 

Produced for:


8-10 rue Mario Nikis, 75015 Paris, France

Media relations | Orlegi Ltd.

Further reports about: CET ESA ESOC Flight GMT Press Rosetta Sun spacecraft

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

nachricht Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch
20.10.2016 | The Optical Society

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>