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Public Lecture

"The dangers of landing on a comet....twice"

By Laurence O'Rourke, ESA, Madrid, Spain.

June 12th 2017
Venue: Physics Building Trinity College Dublin

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Our contact number is 086 06 46 555 during office hours. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused should you have any difficulties.

About the Lecture

This talk will describe the challenges and dangers of the Rosetta mission with a focus on the two landings that were performed on the comet - the first being the Philae lander in November 2014 and the second the Rosetta spacecraft itself when it landed to end the mission on 30th September last year.

While summarising what is now known about the comet, Laurence will highlight the techniques used by the team in taking measurements at the comet and identifying a landing site for Philae. The presentation will cover the Philae landing & its findings and in particular will highlight the work done by Laurence and the Rosetta team in locating Philae on the surface of the comet nearly 2 years after it landed/bounced and was lost in a rocky shadowy region. The presentation will then cover the dangers faced by the spacecraft when flying around the comet as it got closer to the sun before focussing in on the second and final landing. Here Laurence will describe what was required to land the mother craft Rosetta on the comet including how its the final resting site was chosen, and will run through the final weeks & days & minutes leading to that event.

During the presentation Laurence will also describe some of his personal experiences of living with this mission on a 24/7 basis for three years.

About the Lecturer

Laurence O'Rourke is from Mullingar and has being working in the European Space Agency since 1996, located at 3 of its establishments (ESTEC, ESOC and currently ESAC in Madrid) as an Engineer and a Scientist. He has worked on 5 satellite missions for ESA during this time. In Rosetta, he was part of the flight control team in ESOC at the time of its launch in 2004. After launch he moved to work on the Integral mission (ESA Gamma Ray observatory) followed by the Herschel mission (ESA Infrared Space observatory). On Herschel he was the deputy science operations manager for the mi ssion. I n 2011 he returned to work on the Rosetta mission and is one of two Science Operations Managers in the mission leading a team in ESAC. This team interacts with the 11 instrument teams and the Philae Lander teams located around Europe and the US. The team is responsible for the planning of their science operations which involves designing the science trajectory around the comet, pointing the spacecraft at the comet, providing the instrument commanding and checking the success of the executed observations when they have been completed on board. Laurence is also the ESA Philae Lander System Engineer and was the ESA representative during the landing of Philae in the Lander Control Centre. He has published various science articles on comets and asteroids with his most notable recent publication being in Nature concerning the first confirmed detection of water in the asteroid belt, namely on Dwarf Planet (1) Ceres. Based upon that paper he has been awarded the O'Rourke asteroid by the IAU.


After the lecture there will be a social reception in The Lombard and we encourage all of you to come along for a chat.
All are welcome to attend and free food will be kindly provided by The Lombard.

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A prize draw will be held after the lecture.


Booking Information

Date Monday 12th June
Subject to change - please check back later
Time 8:00p.m.

Physics Department , Fitzgerald Building, Trinity College Dublin.
There is an entrance on Lincoln Place (not far from the Merrion Square end of TCD). If you get the DART or bus to Pearse St, or drive. Use the Science Gallery entrance on Pearse Street (near the corner with Westland Row) There are maps here:  Here

Parking: Mark Street , Marks Lane , Lombard St. East .

Free Parking on the above streets after 7pm
Click HERE for a building map of Trinity College campus
Click HERE for Map of area

Admission €10 (€5 Astronomy Ireland members and concessions)
Tickets where possible should be booked in advance. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the night, please come along 15 minutes early to accommodate.
Book Tickets June 2017
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Call 086 06 46 555 to book tickets over the phone using Debit/ Credit Card
Send a cheque/ PO/ Draft, made payable to Astronomy Ireland to PO BOX 2888, Dublin 5.


This lecture is also available to people nationwide on DVD.
To order a copy of the DVD simply:
Order by credit/ debit card online
Lecture DVD June 2017
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Call 086 06 46 555
Alternatively post a Cheque or postal order to: Astronomy Ireland, PO. Box 2888, Dublin 5.
Cost: DVD's cost €10 each incl P&P (€5 Astronomy Ireland members)
Book Tickets June 2017
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Lecture DVD June 2017
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Acknowledgment: Astronomy Ireland would like to thank the TCD Astrophysics Research Group for hosting AI public lectures in Trinity College Dublin.

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