For the first time, a minilab is to land on a comet

For the first time, a minilab is to land on a comet

After years of travel, the "rosetta" space probe is scheduled to approach comet 67P/churyumov-gerassimenko in 2014 and analyze it from afar. For november of next year, it is planned that their minilab "philae" will land on it – according to esa, an unprecedented action in the history of space travel.

"No one has done this before us," said the head of mission operations, paolo ferri, at the satellite control center in darmstadt on tuesday. "We expect to learn revolutionares of our solar system with it."

Comets are supposed to contain primordial matter from the beginning of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. Researchers believe that part of the water on earth comes from comet impacts.

The gases in the tail of 67P/churyumov-gerassimenko, the temperature in the core and the density are to be analyzed. Soil samples are also planned.

"Rosetta" does its work from afar with eleven measuring instruments, "philae" up close with ten instruments. When the lander has touched down, an all-around photo of the comet is planned. "Philae" was not allowed to work for more than six months. As the comet gets closer and closer to the sun, it becomes more and more dicey for the minilab, the comet also becomes more and more active. It is still uncertain whether "philae" will survive the flyby of the sun. The probe keeps its distance.

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