November 10-16, 2014 / Vol 33, No 45 / Hawai`i Island, USA

ESA Rosetta Philae Lander Attempts First-Ever Soft Touchdown on Comet

Rosetta, Philae Landing

The European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft in orbit around Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) is set to release Philae on November 12 at 08:35 UT to attempt the very first controlled landing on a comet. Intended to land at a site dubbed Agilkia, Philae will be released from a 22.5-km altitude and should make contact with the 4.1×4.5 km comet about 7 hours later at 1 meter per second. Two harpoons will anchor Philae to the surface. If needed, backup Site C will be used with release time scheduled at 13:04 and landing about 4 hours later. Rosetta should begin communications with Philae about 2 hours after separation. One-way signal travel time to Earth is ~28 minutes. Philae is expected to begin its first surface science experiments ~1 hour after touchdown for 64 hours (based on battery life) to study molecule and mineral composition, physical properties and magnetic / plasma environment of the nucleus. Further studies will continue as solar panels recharge its batteries. Philae is expected to lose functionality March 2015 as temperatures increase and Rosetta will study the comet as it moves closer to the Sun, closest approach August 2015. Pictured: Rosetta Mission Manager Fred Jansen (T) and Project Scientist Matt Taylor (B). (Image Credit: ESA, The Guardian / PR)


Nov 10 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 42 will work as three-member crew until Nov 23; transferring cargo from ATV-5 & Progress 57P, loading waste; taking photos of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer wake radiator to characterize potential surface discoloration.

Nov 10 — MAVEN, Mars Orbit: Studying Mars atmosphere at ~150 km to help determine how atmosphere / water were lost over time, five “deep-dip” campaigns down to ~124-km altitude are planned; data on recent comet Siding Spring flyby available.

Nov 10 — Juno, Jupiter Trajectory: Operating nominally, traveling at 48,171 kph in Quiet Cruise Phase until Jan 5, 2016, sending communication signals to Earth; expected to reach Jupiter July 5, 2016.

Nov 10 — Spaceflight Inc., Seattle WA: NewSpace company working with Japan Manned Space Systems Corp. (JAMSS) to integrate & deploy eight 3U CubeSats for U.S. commercial companies on JAXA Astro-H mission launching 2015-16.

Nov 10 — Moon Express Inc., KSC FL: Will work beside Project Morpheus & begin vehicle testing of MX-1 lander at KSC under Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) initiative.

Nov 10 — Virgin Galactic, Mojave CA: Investigations continue into recent accident causing injury & loss of life, memorial fund set up for family of test pilot Mike Alsbury.

Nov 10 — Bradford Astronomical Society, Bradford, United Kingdom: Odyssey Dramatic Presentation: Britannia Sky – A British Space Odyssey.

Nov 10-11 — University of La Serena Dept of Physics, La Serena, Chile: Workshop: Galaxy Groups – Laboratories to Study Galaxy Evolution.

Nov 10-13 — University of Porto Center for Astrophysics, Porto, Portugal: Gaia-ESO Survey Second Science Meeting (GES 2014).

NOV - JAN 2015 = All times for terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for international terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for space events, and…

= All times for international space / astro events in Hawaii Standard Time unless noted. Add 10 hours to obtain UT (‘Universal Time;’ Greenwich, England).

Weekly Planet Watch – Evening Planets: Mars (SW); Morning Planets: Mercury (E), Jupiter (ENE).

“The Next Giant Leap” Conference on Hawai`i Island

Calendar feature - NGL Hawaii 2014

Moon is the central priority of the State of Hawaii conference titled The Next Giant Leap: Leveraging Lunar Assets for Sustainable Pathways to Space, being held November 9-13 at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott in collaboration with Aerospace Hawai`i, PISCES, Space Portal, SSERVI, AIAA, SFF and others. The assets of the Moon in focus for organizers include near-Earth location, diverse regolith, orbital periodicity and gravitational field. The International Lunar Observatory Association ILO-1, NASA Resource Prospector, China Chang’e 4(-5), India Chandrayaan 2, and Japan SLIM missions are all advancing 2016-2018 lunar landing timelines towards the South Pole of the Moon — which, now in 2014 has become the almost-universal choice of the world’s Space / Lunar Agencies, Institutions and programs as the next and most-promising destination on the Moon for human scientific, technical and economic exploration and development. High mountains of “eternal light” for power, thermal, observation and communication advantages; Aitken Basin deep crater water-ice, geology and mining resources, Southern / Galaxy skies; and South Pole Earth / South Pole Moon analog and experience are extraordinary assets for human advancement on the “8th Continent.” (Image Credit: State of Hawaii, P. Spudis, NASA)

Nov 10-14 — Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, India: Conference: Coupling and Dynamics of the Solar Atmosphere.

Nov 10 — Moon: 5.9° S of M35, 03:00.

Nov 10 — Asteroid 2014 UQ114: Near-Earth flyby (0.079 AU).

Continued from…

Oct 20 – Dec 12 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Space Frontier Foundation, Online: Commercial Space Executive Leadership Training Course; with instructors Dan Rasky and Bruce Pittman.

Nov 9-12 — Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5), Baen Books, Initiative for Interstellar Studies, et al, Oak Ridge TN: 3rd Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop: Long-Term Thinking–Present-Day Action; featuring Les Johnson, Sara Seagar, James Benford, Michael Minovitch, more.

Nov 9-13 — State of Hawai`i, Hawaii Office of Aerospace Development, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), University of Hawaii, Waikoloa HI: The Next Giant Leap: Leveraging Lunar Assets for Sustainable Pathways to Space; at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

Nov 9-14 — American Astronomical Society, Tucson AZ: 46th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society; at JW Marriott Starr Pass Hotel.


Nov 11 — Silicon Valley Space Center, AIAA San Francisco Section, Santa Clara CA: TechTalks: Small Spacecraft Technologies; presented by Pete Klupar, 18:30 – 20:30 PST.

Nov 11-14 — ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Workshop: Star Formation Across Space and Time.

Nov 11-14 — Zhuhai Airshow Co. Limited, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China: 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition.

Nov 11 — Moon: 11.9° S of Pollux, 20:00.

Nov 11 — Asteroid 2014 UF192: Near-Earth flyby (0.061 AU).


Nov 12 — Rosetta, Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko Orbit: ESA Rosetta orbiter to release Philae lander at 08:35 UT, planned to land on site “Agilkia” about 7 hours later; if backup “Site C” is used, separation to occur 13:04 UT, landing 4 hours later; spacecraft will escort comet around the Sun; end of mission set for Dec 2015.

Nov 12 — Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland CA: Live Viewing of Rosetta landing on Comet; featuring Dr. Kathrin Altwegg live from ESA Mission Control & Dr. Laura Welcher, 06:00 – 09:00 PST; NASA to provide live coverage as well.

Nov 12 — Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Sydney, Australia: Colloquium: Scrutinizing the Relationship Between Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes; presented by Jillian Bellovary.

Nov 12-13 — National Association of Broadcasters, et al, New York NY: Satellite Communications Conference & Expo (SATCON); at Javits Convention Center.

Nov 12-14 — ESA, Rome, Italy: Conference on Big Data From Space; at European Space Research Institute (ESRIN).

Nov 12 — Taurids Meteor Shower Peak: Appearing to radiate from constellation Taurus, Taurids offer about 7 meteors per hour and travel ~28 km/sec.

Nov 12 — Venus: 1.5° SSW of Saturn, 14:00.

Nov 12 — Asteroid 2012 VG5: Near-Earth flyby (0.096 AU).


Nov 13 — Canadian Space Commerce Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: CSCA monthly meeting; at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

Nov 13 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Evolutionary Processes in Young Binary Systems; presented by Jeffrey Bary of Colgate University.

Nov 13-14 — The World Technology Network, New York NY: The World Technology Summit & Awards 2014; at Time and Life Building.

Nov 13 — Moon: 6.2° SSW of Beehive Cluster, 00:00.


Nov 14 — Royal Astronomical Society, London, United Kingdom: RAS Ordinary Meeting; to include a talk by Professor Alex Halliday (Oxford) on ‘The origin of the Earth and Moon.’

Nov 14 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: Lecture: Preservation of Isotopic Heterogeneity in a Convecting Martian Mantle; presented by Walter Kiefer of LPI.

Nov 14 — Peninsula Astronomical Society, Los Altos Hills CA: Lecture: Determining Mass and Composition of Small Exoplanets; presented by Dr. Howard Isaacson.

Nov 14 — Moon: 5.0° SSW of Jupiter, 05:00; at last quarter, 05:17; at apogee (distance 403,857 km), 16:00; 4.4° SSW of Regulus, 22:00.

Nov 14 — Asteroid 2009 LD: Near-Earth flyby (0.055 AU).

Nov 14 — Asteroid 2014 UL192: Near-Earth flyby (0.083 AU).


Nov 15 — Tucson L5 Society, Tucson AZ: Meeting of the Tucson L5 Society.

Nov 15 — Alamo Lake State Park, Wendon AZ: Alamo Lake State Park Star Party.

Nov 15 — Asteroid 2014 UL115: Near-Earth flyby (0.072 AU).


Nov 16 — The Space Show, Tiburon CA / Online: Dr. David Livingston webinar with Rick Boozer & SLS John Hunt on Space Launch System.

Nov 16-19 — Morgan State University, Baltimore MD: Symposium: Unified Field Mechanics – Natural Science Beyond the Veil of Spacetime.

Nov 16-21 — Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel: Workshop: Triple Evolution & Dynamics in Stellar and Planetary Systems; Postponed to 2015.

Nov 16 — Asteroid 2014 UW57: Near-Earth flyby (0.031 AU).

Nov 16 — Asteroid 2014 VP: Near-Earth flyby (0.083 AU).