November 10, 2014
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On November 12th, the Rosetta spacecraft, designed and developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), along with special instruments from NASA, will make an ambitious attempt to land its 220 pound sidekick “Philae” on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This will be the first time ever a spacecraft has landed on a comet. Slooh will broadcast a free, real-time view of the comet after Philae attempts its landing, informing the public of the results as they reach Earth - live on Slooh.com on November 12th starting at 11:00 PM PST / 2:00PM EST / 1900 UTC (International times: goo.gl/oPuKtv). Slooh will attempt to image the extremely dim and low comet exclusively from a member controlled observatory located at the Institute of Astrophysics, Canary Islands (IAC).
The one hour broadcast will be helmed by Slooh host Geoff Fox with Slooh Astronomer Bob Berman, and multiple special guests, including a scientist from ESA involved with the Rosetta mission. Viewers can ask questions during the show by using hashtag #SloohRosetta.
Comet 67P, as big as a mountain, but double-lobed like a chunk of ginger, is zipping through space thirty times faster than a high speed rifle bullet. It circles the sun every 6 ½ years, while spinning on its axis every 12 ½ hours. It was discovered in 1969, but was just another comet until the European Space agency chose it for the first-ever landing mission. Launched in 2004, The Rosetta spacecraft, carrying the Philae lander and nearly a dozen instruments, spent ten years in space before reaching the comet this past August 6th.
Says Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, “This is the most exciting spacecraft mission since Cassini reached Saturn a decade ago. Comet 67P is heading toward its encounter with the Sun next summer, and as it does so its ices will sublimate, pebbles and dust will be released -- some as dramatic geysers from the comet’s surface --, and now we have a spacecraft right there sending us pictures and videos of the whole thing. It’s unbelievable -- and this makes the attempted landing on its surface critically important, and nail-bitingly perilous.”
The comet, which appears around a hundred times fainter than the planet Pluto, is impossible to see even in large amateur telescopes, and will remain a telescopic object even when it zooms past the sun next August 13. However, Slooh members will test the limits of their equipment in a fierce attempt to image this faint, 18th magnitude object using Slooh’s Canary Islands observatory.
Adds Berman, “An amazing event befell the comet when it passed Jupiter in 1959. The giant planet’s gravity radically changed this comet’s orbit to bring it twice as near to the Sun as it ever came previously. Prior to that, it only ventured as near as about twice the distance of Mars. But that year it dramatically altered to come almost as close to the sun as we do. This means that the solar intensity is now four times greater on the comet than before -- and its effects on the comet’s nucleus are still pretty fresh.”
Rosetta Harpoons Comet Broadcast
Start time: 11:00 PM PST / 2:00PM EST / 1900 UTC
Link - www.slooh.com
Hashtag - #SloohRosetta
Embed - please link back to Slooh.com:
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Slooh makes astronomy incredibly easy, engaging and affordable for anyone with a desire to see outer space for themselves. Since 2003 Slooh has connected telescopes to the Internet for access by the broader public. Slooh’s automated observatories develop celestial images in real-time for broadcast to the Internet. Slooh’s technology is protected by Patent No.: US 7,194,146 B2 which was awarded in 2006. Slooh members have taken over 2.5m photos/140,000 FITS of over 40,000 celestial objects, participated in numerous discoveries with leading astronomical institutions and made over 2,000 submissions to the Minor Planet Center. Slooh’s flagship observatories are situated on Mt. Teide, in partnership with the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), and in Chile, in partnership with the Catholic University. Slooh has also broadcast live celestial events from partner observatories in Arizona, Japan, Hawaii, Cypress, Dubai, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. Slooh’s free live broadcasts of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), comets, transits, eclipses, solar activity etc. feature narration by astronomy experts Bob Berman and Paul Cox and are syndicated to media outlets worldwide. Slooh signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in March 2014 to "Bring the Universe to Everyone and Help Protect Earth, Too." Facebook: www.facebook.com/slooh Twitter: www.twitter.com/slooh