UPDATED: Want To See A Space Probe Land On A Meteor? Sure, You Do – VIDEO
UPDATE: The Philae probe is now the first space craft to land on a meteor after making contact with Comet67P at 11:03AM EST. A malfunction in the thruster caused a rocky landing, and it is still unclear how long the landing will stick, but in the next 64 hours the probe will be sending photographs and sample analyses back to Earth.
For those of you fellow space nerds who are still bummed out by the cuts NASA has been making for the last few years, here's a healthy dose of excitement for you: Rosetta is live-streaming the landing of the Philae probe on a meteor this morning. Rosetta, a space craft that was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) ten years ago, released the probe early this morning to land on Comet 67P, a bit beyond the orbit of Mars. It is presently 510 kilometers away from earth, and is scheduled to make contact at 11AM EST.
There are several pretty big challenges the ESA has had to factor into this landing. First off, the terrain of this comet is extremely rough – like, home planet of a Guardians of the Galaxy villain rough. Second off, Rosetta is so far away that it takes over twenty-eight minutes to successfully transmit any kind of signal to the space craft. Every thing that is factored into this probe launch has been predetermined and uploaded in advance, so this is an ultimate cross-your-fingers moment for the ESA. And on top of everything else, this comet is rushing through space at the rate higher than 18 kilometers per second (no pressure, Philae).
Not only is the ESA live-streaming the event, but they've got Twitter handles being "run" by both Rosetta and Philae, who are, of course, live tweeting the morning's events.
And in an international space bros moment that makes me feel things despite knowing that these are Twitter handles for giant hunks of metal, the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto is also cheering them on:
In the meantime, you can watch the live stream here below. Be sure to tune in at 11 AM EST, but if you're feeling game before that, the ESA is also streaming an original science fiction film called Ambition to explain the Rosetta voyage. I only tuned in for a minute but it looks like Avatar: The Last Airbender in space.