Watch the Skies

Philae probe (The Lander) on Spaceship Rosetta arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philae probe (The Lander) on Spaceship Rosetta arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov. 12, just after 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST in North America (on November 13, 2014 at ESA – European Space Agencies control centers). The lander is expected to send images from its landing site, Agilkia, the first ever taken from a comet’s surface.
Rosetta #CometLanding webcast Separation Confirmation Received on Ground This earlier video stream contained much more information than the actual landing video. That mostly showed all of the participants in
ESA – European Space Agencies control centers congratulating one another.

Here’s why the Rosetta Mission has so many Egyptian names

Agilkia Island is an island in the River Nile and the present site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex of Philae in southern Egypt. Wikipedia
What’s the betting that Agilkia makes it into the baby name charts in 2015? This romantic, lyrical word is the name of an island in the Egyptian Nile, but it’s also just been given to the patch of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko where the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander is due to touch down.
More than 8,000 people from 135 different countries entered the ESA’s competition to name the landing site. More than 150 of these entrants independently suggested Agilkia. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, because this geographical reference fits beautifully with the overarching Egyptian imagery of the Rosetta mission.
It’s well known that the Rosetta spacecraft was named after the famous Rosetta stone, whose discovery in 1799 enabled historians to unlock the secrets of hieroglyphics. The choice of that name reflected the spacecraft’s role in deciphering the mysteries of the universe, while poetically linking space with time, language with science, archaeology with cosmology.
The connections continue. The Philae lander was christened in 2004 by an Italian high-school student, who made the connection between the lander and an ancient obelisk found on the island of Philae near Aswan. The obelisk was inscribed in both Greek and Egyptian characters and its discovery represented another landmark in the translation of hieroglyphics and the understanding of distant kingdoms.
Other ancient Egyptian references in the space mission include Ptolemy (after Ptolemy V, whose name appears on both the Rosetta stone and the Philae obelisk), and the on-board camera OSIRIS—an acronym for Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infra-red Remote Imaging System but also one of the most intriguing ancient Egyptian deities.
And now we have Agilkia—that enigmatic landscape which silently awaits the arrival of Philae.
Back on earth, Philae and Agilkia aren’t just neighboring islands. In the 1970s, when Philae was at risk of floods after the building of the Aswan Dam, the ancient temple complex on the island was dismantled and then re-built on Agilkia.
The journey of the Philae lander to the Agilkia comet site re-enacts this piece of rescue archaeology on a cosmic scale and sets up an almost perfect analogy between ancient Egypt and modern space travel.
Almost perfect, because the inscribed Philae obelisk wasn’t actually among the monuments dispatched to Agilkia. A British aristocrat named William John Bankes had discovered the obelisk in 1815 and taken it back to his stately home in England. Like many other Egyptian obelisks—including those plundered by “Egyptomaniac” Roman emperors—this one has ended up far from its original place of display, and now stands in impressive isolation in the gardens of a National Trust property in Dorset.
Universal heritage
But although the Rosetta’s web of symbolism becomes complicated on close inspection, the overall Egyptian theme is still an incredibly powerful one.
Using hieroglyphs to frame the mission presents space as an entity that can—and eventually will—be deciphered. And while most of us have trouble grasping the colossal distances involved in space travel (Rosetta has travelled a cumulative distance of over 6.4 billion km), the names of ancient places, pharaohs and gods can help us to mentally reach the physical remoteness of celestial bodies.
Other symbolic resonances include the Ptolemaic system of astronomy and the infamous conspiracy theories about the alien origins of the pyramids.
Sending ancient Egypt into space makes our cosmos alive with history and myth. It makes space seem more tangible, yet simultaneously more distant. The analogy can also enhance our perceptions of the past, influencing how we regard our monumental heritage. Philae and Agilkia are currently trending on Google and Twitter—and it’s clear that the world’s attention has been refocused on these sites thanks to their appropriation by space scientists.
And at a time of increasingly strained debates about cultural patrimony it makes a refreshing change to see ancient monuments used as symbols—not of an individual or nation—but of the whole planet. Rosetta, Philae, Ptolemy and Agilkia now rise far above national or political boundaries. They have become distant representatives of our shared, earthly heritage. And in that cosmic light, they look even more noble.
This post originally appeared at The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUK on Twitter. We welcome your comments at
Hear Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sing
Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium (RPC) has uncovered a mysterious ‘song’ that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is singing into space. The comet seems to be emitting a ‘song’ in the form of oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment. It is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased in this recording:
Many of you are familiar with NASA. Few of you may be familiar with (a few) other space programs (those that have an English Language version):
Canadian Space Agency (CSA) (French: Agence spatiale canadienne (ASC)) From Wikipedia
China National Space Agency
ESA – European Space Agencies
ISRO – Indian Space Research Organisation – Mars Orbiter Mission is India’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars, with an orbiter craft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit . It successfully entered into an orbit around planet Mars today morning (September 24, 2014). One of the most extraordinary things that I noticed about India’s Space Research Organization was that the total costs to date is only $85 millions US dollar equivalents. Video Mars Orbiter Insertion Simulation; Launch Video PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission. – Indian Space Research Organisation – Wikipedia
Russian Federal Space Agency (From English Russia News Website) also, From Wikipedia
Russian Space Research Institute From Wikipedia
This year’s Leonids meteor shower peaks on the morning of Nov. 18.. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors. The waning crescent moon will not substantially interfere with viewing the Leonid shower.
Category: Space


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