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Landing of the Philae robot on a comet

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PLEASE NOTE: This guide was originally written in French. If you are using the English version of our site, you will see an automatic translation. You can change the language from the menu in the site header or see our English language guides here.

For the very first time in history, a human-made object will land on a comet. The Philae robot is due to land on November 12 on the "head" of the comet named Tchourioumov-Guérassimenko.

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"The European Space Agency (ESA) gave the green light to the attempt to land Philae, the laboratory robot carried by the European probe Rosetta, on the" head "of comet Churiumov-Guérassimenko on November 12."
Source: La Presse.ca
The following activities will allow you to better understand this space project as well as to discover what the Rosetta probe is.
 


Goals

At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Understand why the landing of the Philae robot on a comet is a milestone event;
- Read a press article and answer comprehension questions;
- Explain what a comet is and complete your answer using a reference book;
- Observe images of comets;
- Watch animations and / or videos on comets;
- Find information on the Rosetta probe;
- Find a name for the Philae robot landing site on the comet and explain its choice;
 


Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: A first in space history

First, have the students read the news about the upcoming landing of a robot on a comet. Tell them that this will be a landmark event in space history.
Green light for Philae landing on a comet on November 12
Published in La Presse, October 15, 2014.
Then discuss this news as a whole class. Here are some questions to ask students to facilitate the discussion:
- Currently, where is the Philae robot located?
- What is the name of the main landing site?
- What does the shape of the comet look like?
- If a light "is red", does this mean that the mission is canceled?
- Thanks to what phenomenon, will the Philae robot reach the target?
- How long will Philae's exploration of the comet take?
- What is the mission of "Rosetta"?
 

ACTIVITY 2: Discover comets

Before starting the activity, ask students if they can explain what a comet is. What does it look like?
Take a few minutes to show them some pictures of comets. You will find some on Google Images here. What do they have in particular?
To fully understand this spatial phenomenon, consult the resources of your school library. If you have access to Encyclopaedia Universalis, see the articles on comets. Other educational resources can be consulted in order to understand the phenomenon of comets such as the resource eduMedia.
Finally, ask the students if they have any idea how the surface of a comet can be made up. As a whole class, watch this video which presents the explanation of an engineer:
How is the soil of a comet?
Source: eduMedia Share
 

ACTIVITY 3: The Rosetta space probe

First, ask the students what they know about the Rosetta space probe. Is this a recently launched probe? Is it NASA which is responsible for this mission?
To find out and learn more about this probe, invite students to complete the following diagram by consulting the links in the "For more information" section:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Download the source file in Inspiration (.isf) format
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)

Also see this animation from eduMedia:

Finally, take a moment as a whole class to consult the page Facebook of the Rosetta probe.
 

For further

As a whole class, find a name at the Philae robot's comet landing site. For now, this location is designated by the letter "J", but following a competition, a real name will be associated with the landing location.
Make your suggestions to the European Space Agency (ESA) by October 22, respecting the following rules:
- Do not use a person's name
- The name must be accompanied by a 200 word description explaining why this name should be used.
Source: Name Rosetta Mission's Landing Site

If you want to deepen the scientific aspect of the theme, you should definitely consult the very rich educational file prepared by the EduMedia Sciences team regarding this extraordinary event.
You can also find two free animations here, one simulating gravity on Philae and the other offering a little game aiming to put Rosetta in orbit around the comet!

 


More about the magazine

Comet
Wikipedia article
European Space Agency (ESA)
Official website
Rosetta (space probe)
Wikipedia article

SCOOP! this is...
 

Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

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