Rosetta comet landing site has a new name: Agilkia

4 Nov 2014

An image showing the Agilkia landing site on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Image via ESA

After a public competition, the site set to be the landing area for the Rosetta Philae lander has been given the name Agilkia, after the island in the Egyptian Nile river.

In just over one week’s time, the Rosetta craft will finally complete its mission to land the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and discover the potential scientific wonders that lie beneath its surface.

Previously designed ‘Site J’, the name Agilkia was selected by a jury comprising members of the Philae Lander Steering Committee as part of the competition which ran between 16 and 22 October by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German, French and Italian space agencies.

The reason for choosing this name relates to the history of Philae during the height of the Egyptian period when a complex of ancient Egyptian buildings, including the famous Temple of Isis, were moved to Agilkia from the island of Philae when the latter was flooded during the building of the Aswan dams during the mid-20th century.

Historical themes dominated name suggestions

Agilkia was by far the most popular among entrants to the competition having been selected by 150 people, with Alexandre Brouste from France selected as the overall winner who managed to take the prize ahead of more than 8,000 entries from 135 countries in just one week.

According to the ESA who are orchestrating the historic mission and who also ran the competition, many of the other entries were, unsurprisingly, related to the same time period as the ancient Egyptians given Rosetta and Philae’s association with that period.

Many other suggestions related to mythological names from all over the globe, including gods and goddesses of water, fertility, life and creation, which reverberate with the theme of the Rosetta mission.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic