[meteorite-list] Rosetta Lander Name Philae

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:31:20 2004
Message-ID: <200402051633.IAA24694_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


European Space Agency
Paris, 5 February 2004
Press Release

Unlocking the secrets of the universe
Rosetta lander named Philae

With just 21 days to the launch of the European Space Agency's Rosetta
comet mission, the spacecraft's lander has been named "Philae". Rosetta
embarks on a 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from
Kourou, French Guiana, on 26 February.

Philae is the island in the river Nile on which an obelisk was found that
had a bilingual inscription including the names of Cleopatra and Ptolemy
in Egyptian hieroglyphs. This provided the French historian Jean-François
Champollion with the final clues that enabled him to decipher the
hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone and unlock the secrets of the
civilisation of ancient Egypt.

Just as the Philae Obelisk and the Rosetta Stone provided the keys to an
ancient civilisation, the Philae lander and the Rosetta orbiter aim to
unlock the mysteries of the oldest building blocks of our Solar System -

Germany, France, Italy and Hungary are the main contributors to the
lander, working together with Austria, Finland, Ireland and the UK. The
main contributors held national competitions to select the most
appropriate name. Philae was proposed by 15-year-old Serena Olga Vismara
from Arluno near Milan, Italy. Her hobbies are reading and surfing the
internet, where she got the idea of naming the lander Philae. Her prize
will be a visit to Kourou to attend the Rosetta launch.

Study of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko will allow scientists to look back
4600 million years to an epoch when no planets existed and only a vast
swarm of asteroids and comets surrounded the Sun. On arrival at the comet
in 2014, Philae will be commanded to self-eject from the orbiter and
unfold its three legs, ready for a gentle touchdown. Immediately after
touchdown, a harpoon will be fired to anchor Philae to the ground and
prevent it escaping from the comet's extremely weak gravity. The legs can
rotate, lift or tilt to return Philae to an upright position.
Philae will determine the physical properties of the comet's surface and
subsurface and their chemical, mineralogical and isotopic composition.
This will complement the orbiter's studies of the overall characterisation
of the comet's dynamic properties and surface morphology. Philae may
provide the final clues enabling the Rosetta mission to unlock the secrets
of how life began on Earth.

"Whilst Rosetta's lander now has a name of its own, it is still only a
part of the overall Rosetta mission. Let us look forward to seeing the
Philae lander, Osiris, Midas and all the other instruments on board
Rosetta start off on their great journey this month," said Professor David
Southwood, ESA Director of Science.

Further information on the ESA Rosetta mission can be found on

For further information, please contact :
ESA Media Relations Service
Tel: +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)
Received on Thu 05 Feb 2004 11:33:47 AM PST

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