Ever want to get in on the celestial feature-naming action? Now is your chance. The European Space Agency is inviting the public to suggest a name for the site where the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander will touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 12.
The winner of the competition will have an opportunity to travel to the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, to follow the landing live from the mission’s control center.
The competition will end on Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. PDT (7 p.m. EDT). The winner will be announced on Nov. 3 on the main Rosetta web page: www.esa.int/rosetta.
For details of the competition and to enter, visit: https://sci.esa.int/rosetta-competition/ .
Launched in March 2004, Rosetta was reactivated in January 2014 after a record 957 days in hibernation. Composed of an orbiter and lander, Rosetta’s objectives since arriving at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko earlier this month have been to study the celestial object up close in unprecedented detail, prepare for landing a probe on the comet’s nucleus in November, and following the landing, track the comet’s changes as it sweeps past the sun.
Comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when our sun and its planets formed. Rosetta’s lander will obtain the first images taken from a comet’s surface and will provide comprehensive analysis of the comet’s possible primordial composition by drilling into the surface. Rosetta also will be the first spacecraft to witness at close proximity how a comet changes as it is subjected to the increasing intensity of the sun’s radiation. Observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in seeding Earth with water, and perhaps even life.