National GeographicNat Geo Wild


  • When Philae attempts to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014, Rosetta will have been in space for over 10 years.

  • Rosetta has passed Earth three times, Mars once, and flown past two asteroids.

  • Rosetta was the first spacecraft to fly close to Jupiter’s orbits by using only its solar panels as the main power source.

  • The Rosetta spacecraft has looped around the sun five times.

  • Rosetta was placed in hibernation, meaning no contact with the European Space Agency (ESA), for 31 months.

  • “The spacecraft’s dimensions are 3.1 x 2.3 x 2.2 yards. There are two 15-yard-long solar panels with a total area of 77 square yards. From tip-to-tip, the spacecraft spans 35 yards.”

  • “In mid-2012, Rosetta recorded its maximum distance from the Sun and Earth – about 500 million miles and 620 million miles, respectively.”

  • Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where Philae will attempt to land, has a shape that’s similar to a rubber ducky.

  • The specific site where Philae will attempt to land is known as “site J,” which is roughly located on the rubber ducky’s forehead.

  • Philae will attempt to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that’s traveling at 34,000 miles per hour.

  • As a result of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko having just 1/100,000th the gravity of Earth, harpoons and ice screws must be used to keep the 220-pound-lander Philae in contact with the comet.

  • On November 12, 2014, the first-ever soft landing on a comet will be attempted by Philae after detaching from the Rosetta spacecraft.