Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philae Lands on Comet Comet 67P

After a heart stopping seven-hour descent, the ESA Philae space-craft has indeed made history by being the first spacecraft ever to land softly on a comet. 

Philae's mother-ship - the Rosetta orbiter, transmitted the signal confirming the successful touchdown.  

Rosetta was launched on 2 March 2004 and traveled over 4 billion miles through the Solar System before arriving at the comet on 6 August 2014.

The landing site, named Agilkia and is located on the head of the bizarre double-lobed object.  Soon after Rosetta arrived, it began taking photos from apx, 20 miles to as far away as 60 miles looking for a possible landing site. 

  • Those first images soon revealed the comet as a world littered with boulders, towering cliffs and daunting precipices and pits, with jets of gas and dust streaming from the surface. 

Philae was release at a distance of 15 miles and it made its decent, without propulsion or guidance.   

Over the next 2.5 days, the lander will conduct its primary science mission, assuming that its main battery remains in good health. An extended science phase using the rechargeable secondary battery may be possible, assuming Sun illumination conditions allow and dust settling on the solar panels does not prevent it. This extended phase could last until March 2015, after which conditions inside the lander are expected to be too hot for it to continue operating.


Dave Tackett said...

It's a very good to start to what is likely to be a great several months for space science! I love the photo from its surface; it (the surface) is a bit rougher than I expected.

Beam Me Up said...

Yeah, so very chaotic, I would hazard a guess that this may be what the smaller rocky planets looked like early on in their development and the solar-system's as well I would bet.