Washington: ESA`s Rosetta spacecraft has identified five locations to set down the Philae lander in November.
Rosetta, which is the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration, has been looking for a suitable landing site for the 100 kg lander ever since it came close to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in early August.
Jean-Pierre Bibring, a lead lander scientist and principal investigator of the CIVA instrument said that the five chosen sites offer the best chance to land and study the composition, internal structure and activity of the comet with the ten lander experiments.
Finalizing the right landing site is a complex process as the site must balance the technical needs of the orbiter and lander during all phases of the separation, descent, and landing, and during operations on the surface with the scientific requirements of the 10 instruments on board Philae.
According to reports, the site will be finalised by September 14 and a fully detailed strategy for the landing operations will be developed, along with a backup.
After completing a decade long journey, Rosetta and its scientific instruments will watch how the comet evolves as heating by the Sun increases, observing how its coma develops and how the surface changes over time, while lander Philae and its instruments will be tasked with making complementary in situ measurements at the comet`s surface.
The lander and orbiter will also work together using the CONSERT experiment to send and detect radio waves through the comet`s interior, in order to characterize its internal structure.