Right now the Rosetta spacecraft is in the orbit of the comet getting its lander ready for this historic event.
The Rosetta spacecraft was launched by the European Space agency ten years ago on its really long journey to catch up with a comet. Right now the spacecraft is in the orbit of the comet getting its lander ready for this historic event.
It'll be the first time humanity has ever attempted a landing on the surface of a comet.
Nobody knows how easy or how hard it is to land on a comet because nobody has done it before.
We don't know what to expect.
This is not a friendly comet to land on, there are boulders, there's dust, there are jets and the shape is just truly bizarre.
You have to look at all of the landing sites, you have to find a smooth spot, the slopes can't be too steep, cant be really large rocks there.
The lander will be ejected from the mother spacecraft and fall to the surface of the comet.
Since this is an unpowered landing, this spacecraft is just free falling to the surface
It's going to be responding to the gravity of the comet and to the pressure of the gas pushing against the spacecraft. Both of these things we have no control over
Gravity on the comet is very low, that's why we have anchoring harpoons which we will fly immediately at touchdown to keep the lander on the surface.
Being able to touchdown and to be able to scoop up some of that primordial material this is going to open the doors to us.
It's scientifically sexy. its going to give us so much information, so much science.
Finding out whats inside the comet will tell us what our solar system was like 4 1/2 billion years ago.
It's going to be unknown. The whole world is watching. Is the landing going to be successful?
We are already successful because we undertake missions like this. we show the human spirit of exploration.
Of not being afraid to fail.
It's the challenge of being bold, that's why we take on tasks like this.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology