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Rosetta Comet Landing to Mark Historic Milestone, Watch If Robot’s Attempt Will Be Successful [FREE ONLINE STREAM]

Travelers Today       By    Althea Serad

Updated: Nov 12, 2014 12:36 PM EST

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The Rosetta Comet landing today by the Philae probe will be the first-ever landing on a comet as soon as it touches down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, reports ESA. The drop towards the comet was made by the European Space Agency's Rosetta satellite at 08:35 GMT, and the Rosetta Comet landing is now ever more closer to completion.

According to controllers, they have now made radio contact with the descending Philae robot which will soon make the Rosetta Comet landing today. This means it is now possible for them to receive pictures from the spacecraft.

As soon as the Rosetta Comet landing becomes successful, it will reportedly provide answers to some mysteries behind the comets and possibly the formation of our Solar System. Success of the Rosetta Comet landing would also mean a first for space exploration since no mission has ever made a soft landing on a comet before.

Touchdown confirmation is expected to broadcast on Earth sometime around 16:00 GMT.

Landing on such comet doesn't come without difficulties though. There will be challenges along the way before the Rosetta Comet landing is to become triumphant, such as the very low gravity on the 4km-wide ice mountain. Philae could reportedly simply just bounce back into space.

On contact, after the anticipated Rosetta Comet landing, the spacecraft will deploy foot screws and harpoons to attempt fastening its position. Afterwards, it will take a picture of its surroundings, such as strange landscapes with deep pits and tall ice spires.

However, the event's outcome could be uncertain, according to the BBC.

Early Wednesday (GMT), the third "go/no-go" decision was reportedly delayed after controllers could not prime the thruster system used to push the robot into the comet's surface upon touchdown.

"We will just have to rely now on the harpoons, the screws in the feet, or the softness of the surface. It doesn't make it any easier, that's for sure," said Stephan Ulamec, lander chief from the German Space Agency.

In addition to this difficulty, the comet's terrain could result in Philae smashing into cliffs, toppling along steep slopes or worst, disappear into a fissure as soon as the Rosetta Comet landing takes place.

According to ESA's Fred Jansen, Rosetta's mission manager, he is still hoping for a positive outcome despite the obstacles that the Rosetta Comet landing might pose.

"We've analysed the comet, we've analysed the terrain, and we're confident that the risks we have are still in the area of the 75% success ratio that we always felt," Jansen told reporters at ESA's mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

Leading British scientist and professor who is working on the lander, Ian Wright, also showed positivity towards the success of the Rosetta Comet landing.

"We realise this is a risky venture. In a sense that is part of the excitement of the whole thing. Exploration is like that: you go into the unknown, you're unsure of what you're going to face," Wright told BBC News.

Hoping against all odds is not without reason. Apart from years of effort put into the mission, the success of the Rosetta Comet landing would reportedly provide an immense prize, and that is the opportunity to get a direct sample from a cosmic wonder.

Comets purportedly contain essential clues about the original composition of the Solar System which began more than 4.5 billion years ago.

One theory suggests that comets may have been responsible for providing water to the planets. Another assumption by scientists is that they could have "seeded" the Earth which started biology.

In the meantime, the Rosetta Comet landing Wednesday is not only a first but it also relies on some relatively old technologies. The spacecraft's dispatch from Earth to catch 67P was in 2004, meaning its design was still from the 1990s. Its onboard systems will reportedly undoubtedly be 1980s vintage.

Despite the possibility of failure for the Rosetta Comet landing, pictures and measurements of 67P from the Rosetta mothership is enough to re-write textbooks.

"The real scientific value of this mission is spread all over Rosetta and its instruments, and the lander is just a part of that," said Andrea Accomazzo, ESA flight director.

"The lander is obviously spectacular; it's the thing the public recognise. But already, even before the landing, the scientific return of Rosetta is orders or magnitude above what we knew about comets previously," added Accomazzo.

The Rosetta Comet landing can be watched on live webcast by following this link. Other channels with live updates include the following:

Rosetta blog: http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta

Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/ESA_Rosetta
http://www.twitter.com/esaoperations
http://www.twitter.com/philae2014
http://www.twitter.com/esascience

Rosetta mission page: http://rosetta.esa.int

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