Watch the Philae comet landing mission live

The European Space Agency is live streaming its historic mission as the lander Philae separates from spacecraft Rosetta and attempts to touch down on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

You can watch it live on through the link above. The webcast will begin 19:00 UTC 11 November (14:00 EST 11 November; 06:00 AEST 13 November) and continue (with pauses) to cover crucial mission milestones. Check the ESA TV schedule here for detailed times.

The Rosetta team expects the landing to take seven hours between separation from the spacecraft to touch down on the rough, cold comet's surface.

It is an historic event. Rosetta has already become the first probe to orbit a comet in a mission scientists hope will teach them more about the composition of comets and how they interact with the solar wind – the high energy particles blasted into space by the Sun.

Data collected by Philae could provide insights into whether comets seeded the Earth with water and even life.

But the mission is still a big gamble. The comet is small and its surface much more uneven than was thought until it was viewed up close. Some pessimistic observers have put the chances of Philae's success at just 50%.

The ESA has a series of images comparing the size of the comet to European cities (below is the one set against the background of London).


As tensions rise in the hours to Philae's separation, the ESA has used a media briefing at the ESA operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to give an overview of the scientific activities conducted so far.

Matt Taylor, ESA Rosetta project scientist, said the experiments and measurements began 7 May 2014, while the spacecraft was still almost two million kilometres from the comet. The first surprise was the shape of the comet, consisting of two lobes.

Rosetta closed in on its target on 6 August, at a distance of about 100 km, and has manoeuvred down to 10 kilometres as it lines up the best position to launch Philae on her historic mission.
The ESA has an excellent blog keeping the public up to speed with the mission. Their account of the science update is here and their blog homepage here.

The illustration below details the equipment on board Philae that will carry out the scientific work of the mission.

You can read the original Cosmos story about the aims and hopes of the mission here, and see a list of updates from our news blog here.


Latest Stories
MoreMore Articles