, Volume 128, Issue 1-4, pp 205-220
Date: 09 Feb 2007

The Rosetta Lander (“Philae”) Investigations

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Abstract

The paper describes the Rosetta Lander named Philae and introduces its complement of scientific instruments. Philae was launched aboard the European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft on 02 March 2004 and is expected to land and operate on the nucleus of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at a distance of about 3 AU from the Sun. Its overall mass is ~98 kg (plus the support systems remaining on the Orbiter), including its scientific payload of ~27 kg. It will operate autonomously, using the Rosetta Orbiter as a communication relay to Earth. The scientific goals of its experiments focus on elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical composition of the cometary material, the characterization of physical properties of the surface and subsurface material, the large-scale structure and the magnetic and plasma environment of the nucleus. In particular, surface and sub-surface samples will be acquired and sequentially analyzed by a suite of instruments. Measurements will be performed primarily during descent and along the first five days following touch-down. Philae is designed to also operate on a long time-scale, to monitor the evolution of the nucleus properties. Philae is a very integrated project at system, science and management levels, provided by an international consortium. The Philae experiments have the potential of providing unique scientific outcomes, complementing by in situ ground truth the Rosetta Orbiter investigations.

Philae team members are listed in the acknowledgements