Candidate landing sites on comet nucleus. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Candidate landing sites on comet nucleus.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft will deploy onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko its Philae lander in November.The top five locations on the comet nucleus – about 4 kilometers across — for the touchdown of the 220-pound (100-kilograms) lander have been selected.

Three sites (B, I and J) are located on the smaller of the two lobes of the comet and two sites (A and C) are located on the larger lobe.

Landing date

According to an ESA press statement, the landing is expected to take place in mid-November when the comet is about 450 million kilometers from the Sun.

The ESA Rosetta spacecraft will move closer to the comet, allowing a more detailed look at the proposed landing sites.

By mid-September, the five candidate sites will have been assessed and ranked, leading to the selection of a primary landing site, for which a fully detailed strategy for the landing operations will be developed, along with a backup.

Philae lander. Copyright: ESA/ATG medialab

Philae lander.
Copyright: ESA/ATG medialab

“The candidate sites that we want to follow up for further analysis are thought to be technically feasible on the basis of a preliminary analysis of flight dynamics and other key issues – for example they all provide at least six hours of daylight per comet rotation and offer some flat terrain. Of course, every site has the potential for unique scientific discoveries,” Ulamec said.

The Rosetta mission team is eying a nominal landing date of November 11.

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