Island on the Nile
Philae’s landing site was looking for a name and now it has one: Agilkia. The competition launched by ESA on 16 October attracted over 8,000 entries in the space of only a few days. Of these, Agilkia—a particularly apposite name—came up more than 150 times and was put forward by CNES as part of the French selection. It is the name of an island on the River Nile in Egypt where the ancient ruins of the island of Philae were moved when the Aswan Dam was built in the 1970s.
A winner therefore had to be picked from a hat and the prize went to a Frenchman, Alexandre Brouste, 33, a mathematics lecturer at the University of Le Mans. He was delighted when CNES spoke to him this afternoon: “I’ve been developing an interest in space for many years, now. I decided to take part in the competition to mark this historic event, since it’s the first time humans have landed a spacecraft on a comet. I thought of Agilkia because of its close ties to Philae. It’s the name of the island in Egypt where the temples previously on the island of Philae were moved to. If all goes well, the landing is going to be a really magic moment and I’m delighted to be able to follow it from a ringside seat at ESOC in Darmstadt.”
Indeed, Alexandre has been invited by ESA to follow Philae’s landing live on 12 November from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.
Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta's Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by DLR, the German Aerospace Centre, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), CNES and ASI, the Italian space agency. Rosetta is the first mission in history to orbit a comet, escort it on its course around the Sun and deploy a lander on its surface.