Tuesday, November 18, 2014

bouncing on a comet.

humans landed a robot on a comet last week for the first time.  yeehaw! a collaboration of scientists and engineers from 20 countries made this happen through the european space agency.

the rosetta spacecraft traveled through the solar system for 10 years, getting gravity assists from earth a few times and mars before reaching its destination: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

space craft selfie with its solar panel and comet 67P

the philae lander drifitng away from rosetta on its way to comet 67P

the philae lander spotting its landing site

unfortunately, philae did not stick the landing and drifted and bounced twice across the surface. scientists werent exactly sure where philea drifted to at first, but this morning released this compilation of images from Rosetta's camera OSIRIS. WOW! at the time, Rosetta was 15.5 km from the comet's surface. the images have a resolution of 28 cm/pixel and the enlarged insets are 17 x 17 m.

Credit: ESA
this is what philea saw upon settling still.  captions by emily lakdawalla.

philea now rests still, in hibernation.  it landed in a spot that doesnt have enough sunlight to supply energy to its working solar panel.  luckily, the little robot managed to collect all the data it was designed to collect during its short initial lifespan, AND it successfully sent all the data back to earth.
it's an exciting time for all those scientists.  i hope they got some sleep after a few days of incredible activity.  lots of science to do now.... i cant wait to hear what they find!

for your entertainment, watch the event as is played out through randall munroe's live-comic-blogging!  relive the experience here:  xkcd1446.org


heroineworshipper said...

Still a heartbreaker to invest all those decades of work, to live in a time when it's technically possible to use a skycrane landing on Mars, yet none of the landing mechanisms worked. The engine didn't fire & the anchors didn't fire.

Unknown said...

did you read the part about how philea collected all the data it was primarily designed to collect? that's a SUCCESS by any standard!