For more than ten years, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has been in pursuit of the same 2.5-mile-wide comet, with the somewhat unwieldy name of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (Ed. note: Scientists, I am available at a very reasonable fee to name your discoveries things that people will actually remember). Starting at 2PM ET today, the ESA will be streaming the attempt at a historic first: landing a human-made object on a comet. This isn't the first contact with a comet, though; in 2005 NASA slammed a comet with its Deep Impact probe, which was destroyed in the process.
The goal of today's mission is to get a probe called Philae from the Rosetta craft to the surface of the comet. That journey should take about seven hours. Once Philae is there, it's meant to use its solar panels to recharge its battery and observe conditions on the surface until March, when the surface of the comet will likely be too hot for Philae to survive.
The ESA's livestream will begin with a press conference, and then continue for 24 hours; it will be primarily focused on Mission Control.
- 2PM ET (November 11th): Livestream begins with a media update. Also the first of several go/no-go decision points.
- 7–8:30PM ET: Two more go/no-go decisions, as the crew confirms the lander is ready for separation.
- 1AM ET (November 12th): The fourth and final go/no-go decision point; a final preparation maneuver.
- 4:03AM ET: The scheduled lander separation.
- 7AM ET: Expected science update/first pictures.
- 9AM ET: Last preparations before landing.
- 11AM ET: Scheduled time for landing on the comet, plus or minus 15 minutes.