Philae / Rosetta landing probe: what will happen when the probe lands on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko?

    November 11, the date of the Philae probe landing on the surface of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko ( landing pad J ) is getting closer. But how will the landing take place, and what will the probe do during the various stages of its mission?

    Recently, the European Space Agency ESA announced a detailed plan, which, I think, will be of interest to many. By the way, in the continuation there is also a video model of the probe landing on a comet.

    So, scientists divided the main mission of the probe into three stages: separation from Rosetta, approaching the comet, landing on the surface of the comet. Philae is equipped with a number of scientific tools, and the following tasks are provided during all of these steps.

    Separation from the parent station and approach to the comet:

    • CIVA will take a “farewell” photo of the Rosetta station (by the way, on August 23, 2015, Rosetta will pass from the Earth at a minimum distance of 264 million kilometers, you can track the trajectory here ).
    • ROLIS will take photos during descent;
    • COSAC and PTOLEMY will take samples of the comet's “atmosphere” during landing;
    • ROMAP will measure the level of interaction of the solar wind with the substance of the comet, "plasma";
    • SESAME / DIM and SESAME / PP will take additional measurements of dust and plasma;
    • CONSERT, along with other instruments, will measure vertical speed and also examine the upper layers of the cometary nucleus.


    • CIVA will take a panoramic shot of the landing site, this shot will allow you to evaluate the module landing;
    • MUPUS will measure the braking of harpoons, which are used to attach the probe to the surface of the comet;
    • SESAME / CASSE will measure the physical parameters of the surface.

    Separation, descent and landing will take about 10-11 hours. The time to complete this task will depend on the specific landing site and, accordingly, the trajectory of the probe.

    In the event of a successful landing and completing the first three tasks already on the comet, Philae will begin work on the implementation of the next stage, which will take about 54 hours. The task is to carry out all the most important scientific works, after which you can begin to perform tasks that can be called less important (although in relation to the study of the comet, all tasks are extremely important for science).

    • ROLIS will take micron-resolution surface images;
    • ROMAP will measure the properties of a magnetic field and plasma;
    • MUPUS will measure the physical parameters of the surface and the temperature of the surface layers in the landing zone;
    • CONSERT will take a sample of the comet's core material.

    At the same time, the probe will study its own location and orientation in space, to find the optimal position in which the solar panels will receive the maximum amount of solar energy.

    The next stage of research is the study of the subsurface layers of the comet, with drilling conducted by tool SD2. COSAC and PTOLEMY will evaluate the concentration of gaseous substances during drilling. SD2 will be drilled twice during this stage, the selected samples will be heated in an oven to release bound chemical compounds that will be in the solid state of aggregation without heating.

    When analyzing the first sample, the concentration of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen will be measured, with the determination of the content of isotopes. A second sample will be used to determine the presence and concentration of chemical compounds. The study of dust in the environment of the probe will be carried out using SESAME.

    Among other things, the surface of the comet will be studied. The Hammer MUPUS immerses itself in the ground to measure the temperature of various surface layers. Acoustic signals and vibrations from the hammer will be analyzed by acoustic sensors, and the obtained data will serve to clarify the properties of the deeper layers of the comet's nucleus. APXS will study the elemental composition of comet surface matter. Using SESAME / DIM, scientists will be able to study the effect of dust particles, and SESAME / PP will help to obtain data on the dielectric properties of the soil, which, in turn, will help to understand whether there is frozen water / ice under the surface of the comet.

    A little later, SD2 will again drill the surface of the comet to obtain samples that will be photographed by CIVA-M with a large increase in the visible and infrared spectra. The same samples will be studied with the COSAC tool.

    The scientific operations of the Philae probe will be performed around March 2015. After that, the temperature of the comet's nucleus will rise to a level when the functioning of the probe will be impossible, and the mission lasting ten years will receive its logical conclusion.

    Via esa

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