Saturday 14 December 2019

Camera clues could lead to finding comet lander Philae

A mosaic of a series of images captured by Rosetta's Osiris camera over a 30 minute period shows the European Space Agency's lander Philae descending towards the Comet. A comparison of the touchdown area shortly before and after first contact with the surface is also seen at the top right (REUTERS)
A mosaic of a series of images captured by Rosetta's Osiris camera over a 30 minute period shows the European Space Agency's lander Philae descending towards the Comet. A comparison of the touchdown area shortly before and after first contact with the surface is also seen at the top right (REUTERS)
The final location of Philae is not known, but the imaging team hopes they will soon be able to discover where it is (REUTERS)

Sarah Knapton

The first image of Rosetta's probe Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were pretty lacklustre, really just a glint of light from the lander as it bounced away from the original landing site.

But new images show the amazing journey that the lander took after failing to anchor itself to the comet. And, for the first time, scientists can see the direction it travelled, giving them a better understanding of where it might have touched down. Even its three landing feet are visible.

The series was captured by Rosetta's Osiris camera when it was 17.5km from the nucleus of the comet. It shows a 30-minute period last Thursday. The time of each image is marked on the corresponding insets in GMT.

From left to right, the images show Philae descending towards and across the comet before touchdown. The image taken after touchdown, at 15.43 GMT, confirms the lander was moving east, as first suggested by data returned by the Consert experiment.

The final location of Philae is not known, but after touching down and bouncing off at 17.25 GMT, it reached there at 17.32. The imaging team hopes that by combining Consert ranging data with Osiris and navcam images from the orbiter, as well as pictures taken by Philae, they will soon be able to discover where it is. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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