Philae Mission – UPSC GS3

Philae is a robotic European space agency lander that accompanied the Rosetta spacecraft until it landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko more than 10 years after departing from earth. Philae’s mission was to land successfully on the surface of a comet, attach itself and send back data about the comet’s composition, launched in 2004 on an Ariane 5G+ rocket along with Rosetta spacecraft.

The scientific goal of the mission focuses on ―elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical composition of the cometary material, the characterization of the physical properties of the surface and sub-surface, the large scale structure and the magnetic and plasma environments of the nucleus.
The significance of the mission lies in the following facts –
  1. The comet is believed to be one of the oldest comets, dating from the beginning of the solar system. Hence, it will act as a time capsule of the conditions at that time.
  2. The mission acts as a technology demonstrator. The insights from the mission will help plan inter-planetary missions, missions to other comets, asteroids etc.
  3. Such missions could also pave the way for commercial mining of asteroids, many of which are believed to have several rare elements.
  4. The knowledge gained from the mission would help us better understand the evolution of the solar system.



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