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Friday 13 December 2019

Rosetta mission: listen to sound of Philae landing on comet

Scientists have released the sound of the Rosetta probe Philae touching down on comet 67p Churyumov-Gerisamenko.

The sound of Philae landing on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been heard for the first time.

Sensors in the feet of Rosetta’s lander recorded the sound of touchdown as it first came into contact with the comet's surface, before bouncing away again on Wendesday November 12.

The instrument, SESAME-CASSE, was turned on during the descent and clearly registered the sound in the form of vibrations detected in the soles of the lander’s feet.

The noise is the actual recording of the mechanical vibrations at acoustic frequencies. No modification was necessary except for some technical adjustments.

Klaus Seidensticker from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research said: “Our data record the first touchdown and show that Philae’s feet first penetrated a soft surface layer – possibly a dust layer – several centimetres thick until they hit a hard surface – probably a sintered ice-dust layer – a few milliseconds later.”

Mr Seidensticker adds: “At the moment, we are also supporting the effort to reconstruct the flight path of the lander after first touchdown, collecting all available data across the various instruments.

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)

"This is important for SESAME, especially CASSE, as we need to know the speed, impact angle, and rotation rate before the first touchdown, but also the final landing place.”

The little probe was put into hibernation mode on Saturday after scientists managed to retrieve a treasure-trove of data.

It was hoped that the little lander would continue to operate for several months, taking readings, and analysing the nucleus of the comet.

But the unfortunate bounce on landing left the probe lodged in the shadow of a crater wall where its solar panels could not absorb enough energy from the Sun’s rays to keep going.

First impressions of the comet suggest that the surface of 67P/C-G is a mix of hard rocky areas and soft dusty snow.

SESAME is the lander’s Surface Electrical Sounding and Acoustic Monitoring Experiment.

The final location of Philae is not known, but the imaging team hopes they will soon be able to discover where it is (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)

CASSE, the Comet Acoustic Surface Sounding Experiment, is studying the make up of the comet's nucleus using soundwaves.

Earlier this week images were released showing Philae bouncing across the comet. They were taken by the OSIRIS camera on Rosetta.

Telegraph.co.uk

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