• Germany's news in English

Bremen space team prepares comet landing

The Local · 29 Jan 2013, 07:31

Published: 29 Jan 2013 07:31 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"The mission is extremely important," said Andrea Accomazzo, leader of the European space agency Esa which is organizing the mission to explore the comet's surface. "If we can gain a better understanding of comets, then we will know about the formation of our solar system. That is like archaeology in space."

The German Aerospace Centre in Bremen (DLR) - which boasts research faculties unique in Europe - is charged with the important role of preparing 'Philae', the landing unit of the probe, for its big moment.

The spacecraft was launched in March 2004, so is already well on its way towards its final destination: comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

But it went up untested - because the expertise for doing so was not available then. The Bremen researchers are now working with a replica of the lander to prepare for its encounter with the comet.

Uncertainty about landing conditions means that researchers must be prepared for everything. "We know almost nothing about the comet," admitted Accomazzo.

To ensure a smooth operation, experts are currently putting their copy through its paces by simulating every conceivable scenario. The Bremen team are practising for landings on a wide variety of surfaces, from firm to sandy, smooth to bumpy.

Should the probe reach the comet in May 2014 as forecast, a camera will photograph it thoroughly in order to find a suitable landing place. The Bremen tests should help the mission to plan the landing precisely and to adjust the software of the unit if necessary.

Some alterations have already been made thanks to the observations of the Bremen team. A brace has retrospectively been added to the legs of the landing unit in an attempt to protect its delicate measuring technology from the full impact of the landing.

Story continues below…

But whatever the outcome of the mission, the ultimate fate of 'Philae' is already set: as the comet moves ever closer to the sun, the lander is heading for a fiery finish.

DPA/The Local/pmw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:29 January 29, 2013 by Simon_Kellett
Article could have mentioned that the spacecraft that Philae is hitching a ride on is "Rosetta".
10:57 January 29, 2013 by ELDUDERINO
Also: Andrea Accomazzo isn't the leader of esa. He is the Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) for the mission. And if anyone wants to see Rosetta, the spacecraft Philae is attached to, there's a copy of it here in Darmstadt.
11:50 January 29, 2013 by simski
"A brace has retrospectively been added to the legs of the landing unit" How? I thought they launched this thing in 2004?
21:11 January 29, 2013 by iseedaftpeople
Just don't let Howard operate the probe.
03:21 January 30, 2013 by DOZ
Good luck with that.
04:57 January 30, 2013 by deep_schismic
Pfft, more quality translating/journalism from The Local...how could they not mention that this is the ROSETTA MISSION!
09:43 January 30, 2013 by lordkorner
Shame ,not a mention of Harry Stamper...
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd