Rosetta: Comet landing gear baptized

Philae as a symbol for the deciphering of the basic building blocks of the solar system

Komentenlander "Philae" DLR
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The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has announced the winner of the name contest for the Rosetta lander: the lander will be called "Philae".

The naming had been advertised in the context of a competition over Internet. At the end of the deadline of 5 January 2004, each participating country first selected five proposals at national level, which were then submitted to a panel made up of scientists and project leaders from the respective partners. From the proposals "Philae" was chosen as the winner. The idea came from a 15-year-old girl from Arluno, a small town near Milan. Her name is Serena Olga Vismara, and she wins a trip to launch the Rosetta mission, which will start on 26 February 2004 from the European Spaceport Kourou in French Guiana.

"Philae" is the name of a temple on an island in the Nile south of Luxor. In this temple was found an obelisk, which contained the names of Cleopatra and Ptolemy in both hieroglyphs and in Greek script. With this and the comparison to the inscriptions of the "Stone of Rosetta", the decisive key was found that the French archaeologist Jean-Fran├žois Champollion (1790-1832) needed to decipher the hieroglyphs. The Rosetta stone was discovered by Napoleonic soldiers in the eighteenth century by accident near the town of Rosetta (now Raschid).

Just as the Philae Obelisk and the Rosetta Stone helped unravel an ancient writing culture, scientists expect the Philae Lander and the Rosetta orbiter to help decode the oldest building blocks of our solar system, the comets.

On February 26, 2004, the European spacecraft Rosetta is to launch a ten-year journey through our inner solar system, to reach the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014, and to spend close to one year exploring it. In November 2014, Philae should separate from the mothership and land on the comet. The aim of the ESA Rosetta mission is also to get important clues about the formation of the solar system: Astronomers believe that the tail stars contain largely unadulterated remains of that matter, from about 4.5 billion years ago, the sun and the earth and the other planets of our solar system have emerged. display

(DLR, 06.02.2004 - NPO)