The EUTELSAT 7B satellite of Eutelsat Communications is to form part of an exceptional infrastructure put in place by the European Space Agency to share the historic landing of the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 12th.
The Rosetta spacecraft, carrying the lander, rendezvoused with Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on August 6th after a ten-year journey through the Solar System. The landing site, currently known as Site J and located on the smaller of the comet’s two ‘lobes’, was selected just six weeks after Rosetta arrived at the comet.
Travelling side-by-side with the comet at 60,000kph the mission’s lander, Philae, will separate from the Rosetta spacecraft on 12 November at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET from a distance of 22.5 km from the centre of the comet. Around seven hours later it will land on the surface of the comet, with thrusters pushing it down as it attaches via a robotic pre-programed arm.
The European Space Agency, because of the comet’s distance from Earth, will only known whether the landing has been successful seven and a half hours after it has occurred or failed. However, the delay in signal reception due to the distance has not prevented Eutelsat from putting in place plans to broadcast the mission live via the EUTELSAT 7B satellite located at 7° East.
The mission will be broadcast in several segments:
19:00 GMT / 20:00 CET Go-No Go #1
06:00-07:00 GMT / 07:00-08:00 CET: Final preparation manoeuvre and Go/No-Go # 5 for lander separation
08:30-09:15 GMT / 09:30-10:15 CET: Lander separation scheduled at 09:03 GMT/10:03 CET
11:00-12:15 GMT / 12:00-13:15 CET: Science update and first pictures expected around 12:00 GMT / 13:00 CET
14:00-15:30 GMT/ 15:00-16:30 CET: Rosetta science / Last preparations and then await landing
15:45-16:15 GMT /16:45-17:15 CET: Landing expected at 16:00 GMT / 17:00 CET (+/- 15 mn)
17:00 GMT /18:00 CET earliest: Presentation of first panoramic image from the comet
Three control centres are involved in the landing: the Rosetta Mission Operations Centre at ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany; the Lander Control Centre at DLR in Cologne, Germany; and the Lander Science Operations and Navigation Centre at CNES in Toulouse, France.
Activities at each control centre will be closely linked and will be featured in a combined English-language ESA TV programme broadcast from ESOC.