Hello, Agilkia

Site J, Philae's primary landing site.

Agilkia, Philae’s landing site on Comet 67P/C-G. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Eight days before Rosetta’s lander Philae is scheduled to touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and a name has been chosen for the landing site: Agilkia.

The landing site, previously known as ‘Site J’, is named for Agilkia Island, an island on the Nile River in the south of Egypt. A complex of Ancient Egyptian buildings, including the famous Temple of Isis, was moved to Agilkia from the island of Philae when the latter was flooded during the building of the Aswan dams in the 20th century.

The name was selected by a jury comprising members of the Philae Lander Steering Committee as part of a public competition held 16–22 October by ESA and the German, French and Italian space agencies.

Agilkia was one of the most popular entries – it was proposed by over 150 participants. The committee selected Alexandre Brouste from France as the overall winner. As a prize, Mr Brouste will be invited to ESA’s Space Operations Control Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to follow the landing live.

Although perhaps not quite as complicated as navigating Rosetta and Philae towards the comet, the task of choosing a name was by no means simple. More than 8000 entries from 135 countries were received in one week, showing great creativity and cultural diversity.

Thank you to everyone who entered!


Read the full article announcing the winner on the ESA portal: Farewell ‘J’, hello Agilkia.




  • Losby says:

    I proposed Agilkia too, so I almost had an heart attack when I read the post. So sad I wasn’t the first…
    Anyway, I can’t wait for the landing. This mission amazed me when I was a kid and led me to want to work in space. 10 years after, and now it’s only in one week.

    • Muhammad Azhar Siregar says:

      How that can it be? i have the similar name too, just late a few minutes.

  • Bill says:

    Good choice– AGILKIA was my informal name for the region. Very well-read bunch, you are….


  • ana says:

    Most popular is not a good reason for a choise. Besides i don’t feel it represents all people. Disapointing.

  • Gagarin says:

    Well chosen! Congratulation to M.Brouste! What’s left to say? Happy landing Philae and many interesting things to come!

  • Phil Stooke says:

    But there is a close connection with Philae, so now that’s a good choice. The naming theme was Egyptian from the outset, so it’s not going to ‘represent all people’ anyway – all we need is that, overall, planetary nomenclature represents all people (you know – scientists on the Moon, artists on Mercury, spas on Gaspra, caves on Ida, women on Venus, fire deities on Io and so on). Besides, it’s Rosetta itself which ‘represents all people’ as a symbol of human exploration and ingenuity as we move out into space.

  • Simon says:

    The landing site deserved a consistent name and even popular, Agilkia might be considered as an anachronism … The temple complex of Philae was dismantled and relocated on this nearby island of course, but in the second half of 20th century only. Which alienates us from the ANCIENT Egyptian origins of Rosetta (stone) and Philae (obelisk). What a pity!

  • Robin Sherman says:

    It is nice to know that Rosetta, Phylae and 67P have attracted the interest of people world wide. The name was not the one I entered, but I fully understand and can agree with, the reasons for choosing it. My spellchecker doesn’t like it though, nor Phylae.

    Make sure you get a peak at some of those OSIRIS images we are not allowed to see M. Brouste.

  • TWR says:

    What a boring name. Horrible and no sende of humour – like whole EU

  • Erwin says:

    I proposed Agilkia too, given the background:

    The Philae obelisk was one of two obelisk found at Philae in Upper Egypt in 1815. … During the 1820s W.J. Bankes acquired the obelisk and had it transported to his estate at Kingston Lacy in Dorset, England. … The house now belongs to the National Trust and the obelisk can still be seen in the gardens. (Wikipedia: Philae obelisk)
    Agilkia Island (also called Agilika island) is an island in the Nile River and the present site of an Ancient Egyptian temple complex of Philae. (Wikipedia: Agilkia Island)

    I miss in the grounds for the decision an important aspect given in my proposal:
    Naming the landing site “Agilkia” would be a symbolic transportation of the Philae obelisk to his natural place.

  • Muhammad Azhar Siregar says:

    Good Name for Good Result, Good Luck M. BROUSTE! Enjoy the live show!

  • Kamal Lodaya says:

    Emily: What is it that has been named? If all of ESA’s calculations go haywire and Philae lands on the boulder that we are calling Cheops, has Cheops been renamed Agilkia? I think you should name areas of the comet unpredicated by future events. (I may add that I appreciate all your hard work enormously.)

    • Jacob nielsen says:

      Colombus also had a name ready before shipping off, hence ‘the West Indies’.

  • Dirk Villarreal Wittich says:

    I suggested the name “Limes Solaris”.

  • Henk says:

    A bit disappointed with all the Egyptian names. It was Tranquility base for Apollo.

    Yes i send in my own name and sure you can`t win most of the time with contests. But this is a European taxpayers funded mission and all we get now is Egyptian names. Feels strange and like a missed opportunity to inspire more Europeans to follow or get directly involved in European space developments. Even relations to the Antikythera mechanism or other Greek related names or talking about a New Columbus, New Apollo moment would have been much more inspiring to me. Oh, well. It sure won’t spoil my fun following the rest of this mission. Even if Philae fails to land there is more than enough to do and discover with Rosetta over the coming 12 months! All the best of luck to everyone working on this amazing project!

  • Maurizio Eltri says:

    Io avevo suggerendo il nome “WISH PLACE”- luogo dei
    desideri -, perchè secondo una nota e antichissima credenza, quando appare una stella cadente, si
    dovrebbe esprimere un desiderio. La maggior parte delle stelle cadenti (circa il 96%) sono dovute all’impatto nell’atmosfera di frammenti d’origine cometaria. Pertanto le rocce che in assoluto per la prima volta saranno riprese e analizzate da Philae, sono le stesse che danno origine alle meteore e quindi di chissà quanti desideri…

  • Paul Scutts says:

    I feel for the people who proposed the name selected but weren’t the first. Perhaps it would have been kinder to have selected a name that was only nominated once, like my one “qwertyuiop”. LOL. Good luck with the landing, hope all goes well.

  • James says:

    Great choice of names, I couldn’t have (and didn’t) done better.

  • Marco says:

    We need a new name for the new Site Philae ended up in.

  • WJB says:

    Farewell Agilkia, hello Kingston Lacy!

    It is unfortunate but perhaps fitting that the Philae lander has bounced far away from Agilkia, since its namegiver, the Philae Obelisk, never really had anything to do with the Egyptian island of Agilkia. The obelisk was long gone from the island of Philae by the time its neighboring temples were moved to Agilkia to escape the rising waters of Lake Nasser.

    Now that the lander has left its cometary Agilkia behind, a new name will be needed for the site where Philae has come to rest. If being cautious and reserved is important, and the Egyptian theme is a limitation, then a good choice for the name of Philae’s new address would be “Iteru”, the ancient Egyptian name for the River Nile. Not only does Iteru serve well metaphorically to tie together Rosetta and Philae (and Ptolemy, Cheops, and all other Egyptian names employed in this mission), but one can also think picturesquely of comet 67P — with its accompanying flow of gas, dust, and icy particles — as a veritable celestial river around the Sun. If 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko didn’t already have such a felicitous name, Iteru might even serve well as a name for the comet itself.

    But might there be some room for a more-playful alternative for the new name? Philae’s unplanned bouncy relocation reminds us that there is a pattern here of things not quite turning out as planned:
    – the original target comet (46P/Wirtanen) had to be changed to 67P/C-G when the original launch date was delayed, then delayed again.
    – the Rosetta stone was found in Rosetta (the European name for the Egyptian port city of Rashid) but almost certainly had been moved there from somewhere else, such as Memphis or Sais. And now, after its own big bounce, it resides in the British Museum.
    – the Philae Obelisk bounced from sunny Philae Island to the much more overcast setting of Kingston Lacy, which at the time was the Dorset, England estate of William John Bankes, discoverer of the important linguistic clue on the obelisk.

    Now the lander’s surprise bounce away from the intended Agilkia site adds to this legacy of unplanned outcomes. Given these precedents, there really can be no more appropriate name for Philae’s unexpected cometary resting place than “Kingston Lacy”! ESA should declare this to be the name for the new site, thereby acknowledging with good humor that on such a grand adventure not everything will go according to plan.

    Philae, welcome to Kingston Lacy!

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