Free Admission To Discovery Center For Comet Landing

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November 8, 2014 – The Space Foundation is partnering with the German and European Space Agencies to host a public event at the Discovery Center for the Rosetta mission’s landing attempt on November 12. The public is invited to Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs to learn about the Rosetta mission and monitor the landing attempt.

The Discovery Center will be open to the public free of charge all day on November 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Discussion and presentations will be on-going and the public is invited to bring a sack lunch and drop in to learn why this mission is important to the understanding of life on Earth.

Why the landing attempt is significant

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched Rosetta aboard an Ariane 5 launch vehicle in March 2004. After a 10-year journey, Rosetta became the first spacecraft to orbit a comet. The orbiter’s payload includes the Alice ultraviolet spectrograph developed by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder.

Rosetta’s rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has opened a new chapter in Solar System exploration. Comets are considered to be the building blocks of the Solar System and may have helped to seed the Earth with water, making life possible. Rosetta will help answer fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role that comets may have played.

Rosetta is scheduled to release its lander, Philae, on November 12. Philae will descend to the comets surface, attempting the first-ever direct observations of a comet surface. Philae will drill into the surface, extract and analyze samples, and send pictures and data back to Earth. Rosetta’s instruments will continue to study the comet from orbit.

The complicated landing is expected to take about seven hours and will involve three control centers: the Rosetta Mission Operations Centre at ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany; the Lander Control Centre at DLR in Cologne, Germany; and the Lander Science Operations and Navigation Centre at CNES in Toulouse, France.

Why the Space Foundation is hosting this educational open house event

The Space Foundation designed its Discovery Center to be a STEM-purposed center of formal and informal education in Colorado, offering events and exhibits for the public and programs for schools that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The Space Foundation partners with space agencies around the world, including ESA and the German Space Agency (DLR). Last week, the Space Foundation and DLR hosted the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Germany Aerospace Roundtable (UGART) in Frankfurt, attended by representatives of 30 industries and 20 agencies. It included a visit to ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt for a detailed briefing on the Rosetta mission. The Space Foundation will share those insights with the public during its open house on November 12.

Homeschool Day

November 12 will also be the first day of the Discovery Center’s new Homeschool Day. Each month the Discovery Center will offer an education program specifically for homeschool students. The structured homeschool program on November 12 will be held from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Then students and their families are invited to stay for the informal Rosetta mission program and to monitor the lander’s progress.

To reserve a space in the Homeschool Day activities from 9:30 – 11:00, email SFDCreservations@spacefoundation.org.

Learn more about the Rosetta mission at www.esa.int/ESA.

The Discovery Center is located in Space Foundation World Headquarters, at 4425 Arroweswest Drive, Colorado Springs. For more information about the Space Foundation Discovery Center, visit www.spacefoundation.org/museum, or call 719.576.8000.