TECH

Rosetta Landing Site Is Named 'Agilkia'

04/11/2014 16:04 GMT | Updated 04/11/2014 16:59 GMT

Agilkia.

That is the name of the spot on the head of a comet where the European Space Agency might be about to pull off one of the most remarkable feats in the history of space exploration.

They're going to land on a moving comet.

esa

The name of the landing site on which the Philae robot will land was chosen following a public competition.

'Agilkia' was chosen in honour of the island in the Nile (Rosetta… gettit?) of the same name, and is happily somewhat snappier than the comet's full title ('Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko').

All going well, it will be where humanity soft-lands on a comet for the first time on 12 November.

ESA said that it hopes the robot to report back around 4pm GMT with the good news from its position 580 million km from Earth.

If it does it will be an uplifting victory for space exploration which is badly needed after a truly appalling seven days for private spaceflight.

More than 150 people suggested the name Agilkia, ESA said. The island is famous for containing a complex of Ancient Egyptian buildings, including the Temple of Isis, which were moved to Agilkia from the island of Philae after flooding caused by the building of the Aswan dams.

The decision was very tough,” says Prof. Felix Huber of the DLR German Aerospace Center, chair of the Steering Committee.

“We received so many good suggestions on how to name Site J, and we were delighted with such an enthusiastic response from all over the world. We wish to thank all participants for sharing their great ideas with us.”

ESA said that most of the entries were concerned with science, the arts and history.

But yes, it also admitted that "there was no shortage of more humorous entries, many referring to the resemblance of the comet’s nucleus to a rubber duck, a potato or even the cartoon dog, Snoopy".