Getting closer to the comet
It’s a historic picture, taken by the Rosetta spacecraft 30 kilometers from the 67P / Churymov-Gerasimenko comet, the first that will be reached by a space mission.
The journey of Rosetta, started in 2004, continues. Finmeccanica, together with Selex ES, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space holds a major role in the Rosetta mission partecipating at the building of both the spacecraft and the lander.
During the coming month of November, the lander Philae will land on the coming month of November to perform the tests that the whole scientific world has been waiting for years. The suitable place for landing, a region of 67P / Churymov-Gerasimenko referred to as "J", was chosen among five identified by the spacecraft because of its strategic characteristics, the good observing conditions and a lower risk factor. Located in an area of the "head" of the comet, the chosen site has an irregular shape and a maximum width of about 4 kilometers. The data that enabled the choosing of "J" were supplied by VIRTIS – Visible and Infrared thermal Imaging Spectrometer – an instrument designed by Finmeccanica - Selex ES. The arrival of Philae is scheduled for November 12th: since that time the instruments on board will begin to produce information on the composition of the comet through images and measurements of the soil. Among the equipment on board Philae provided by Finmeccanica there are the sophisticated system of acquisition and distribution of samples of the comet, the drill SD2 - Drill & Sample Distribution -, and GIADA - Grain Impact Analyser and Dust Accumulator - which will analyze the dust and particles in the coma of comet measuring its physical properties and dynamics.
The picture (copyright: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA), made through the CIVA (Comet Nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer) system of infrared cameras, clearly shows, in addition to the comet itself in the background, the solar panels 14 feet long made by Finmeccanica-Selex ES that will give energy to the spacecraft and allow operating in extreme environmental conditions even up to 2AU away from the sun. The Photovoltaic Assembly (over 62m2) is by far the largest ever produced and used in an ESA (European Space Agency) scientific mission of. An abridged version of this apparatus is also installed on the Philae lander.