When it comes to space exploration, hitting moving targets is the name of the game, but the European Space Agency'smission to land on a comet hurtling toward our sun has a smaller target than usual. That's why the Rosetta spacecraft has spent the last few months orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, photographing it and mapping the frigid space rock in detail.
This week, the ESA announced that it has selected the bull's-eye on its target where it hopes Rosetta's Philae lander will be able to touch down and drill itself into the comet. The above image is a mosaic of photos taken by Rosetta of the chosen primary landing site, known as Site J. The photos were taken at a distance of about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the comet.
Since Site J doesn't quite have the same historic ring as, say, the Sea of Tranquility, ESA and its Rosetta Mission partners have just launched a competition to name the comet landing site. Here are the key details from the ESA announcement of the contest:
The rules are simple: any name can be proposed, but it must not be the name of a person. The name must be accompanied by a short description (up to 200 words) explaining why this would make the ideal name for such an historic location.
Members of the Philae Steering Committee will pick a winning name and contestant, who will be invited to watch the landing in person at ESA mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, on the scheduled landing date of November 12. The competition ends on October 22, and yes, Americans and Canadians are eligible to win, as are residents of most European nations (the full list is here.)
Go to the main contest page for full details on entering and the rules. If you're at a loss for name suggestions, may I suggest "Port Crave?" Admittedly, this name works much better if we can rename the Philae lander the "Crave-y Boat," but a blogger can dream...