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Rosetta readies for lander's comet touchdown

Philae is scheduled to reach Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface at 11:02 a.m. EST November 12.
RELATED TOPICS: SOLAR SYSTEM | COMET | COMET 67P | ROSETTA
Philae touchdown illustration
Artist concept of Philae separating from Rosetta and descending to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
ESA/ATG medialab
After a journey of more than 10 years and a few months in orbit, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft is now less than 24 hours from landing its Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

According to ESA, Philae is scheduled to separate from Rosetta at about 09h03m UT (4:03 a.m. EST) November 12, with touchdown following about seven hours later, at 16h02m (11:02 a.m. EST). ESA's Webcast will begin at 19h UT (2 p.m. EST) today and continue (with pauses) to cover crucial mission milestones overnight today and tomorrow. Check the ESA TV schedule for detailed times.

Once the lander fires two harpoons into Comet 67P's surface to secure itself, Philae's 10 onboard instruments will get to work. Two camera systems will take panoramic and other high-resolution pictures of the surface. Other instruments will study the composition and character of the landing site, now officially named Agilkia, and the comet's interior, and a drill will collect samples for analysis.

Scientists expect Philae to survive at least a few months on the harsh surface environment. If it does, it will be able to trace the comet's activity from about 280 million miles (450 million kilometers) from the Sun to 185 million miles (300 million km) away.

For complete coverage of the landing, visit http://rosetta.esa.int.
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