Space Station Astronaut Shares the Challenge They Face to Successfully Land Philae on a Comet

While on board the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst used an earplug to demonstrate the challenges the Rosetta mission (previously) faces in attempting to successfully land the Philae spacecraft on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Gerst affixed velcro to the earplug to simulate Philae’s landing harpoons and ice screws, and with little success threw it repeatedly at a velcro target on a piece of equipment floating in the space station’s microgravity environment. With each attempt, Gerst makes the challenge more difficult by adding another level of motion to the target.

In the video, Gerst also narrates a computer model showing the 10-year history of the mission, and its plans for the future.

ESA will attempt to land Philae on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 12th, 2014. It would be the first time in history a spacecraft lands on a comet.