By Jean Christou
There are only hours left to win a spot to witness the landing of the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft’s robotic probe Philae on the surface of a comet on November 12 in Germany.
The probe is expected to land on ‘Site J’, which the ESA would prefer had a more illustrious name for such a big event, and have put out a call to the public.
EU and US nationals have until 11.50GMT on Wednesday to submit a name for Site J, which could earn them a spot at the ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt on the day.
To enter the competition, applicants must complete an online entry form with the name they propose for Site J on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the reason they chose this name, as well as name, email address, and country of residence. In addition they must submit a 200 word description on why they have selected the name.
Proposals from participants under the age of 18 must be submitted by parents or guardians.
People can propose any name they like, but it cannot be named after a person, dead or alive. Mythological names with a commonly-known symbolic meaning will be considered. The application can be made in any European language.
The prize entitles the winner to join VIPs, media and other guests to follow the landing of Philae live on screen and listen to live talk from mission experts during the day.
“As the location of the first soft landing of a human-made object on a comet, the site, currently identified as Site J, deserves a meaningful and memorable name that captures the significance of the occasion,” said an ESA press statement.
Philae has been conducting surveys and analysis of the comet for some time and has been moving closer. During its seven-hour descent on to the comet’s surface on November 12, the probe, which will be disengaged from Rosetta, will be able to accumulate data on the comet’s environment and later transmit images back to Earth.
To enter the competition visit http://sci.esa.int/rosetta-competition/
Problems with applications should be directed to Rosetta.Competition cosmos.esa.int