An historic first that yielding tons of data and pride for the ESA, the European Space Agency as they successfully landed a washing machine size lander, the Philae lander on the surface of a comet traveling 41,000 mph! It took two slingshots around the earth and one around Mars for the Rosetta unmanned spaceship to generate the speed necessary to catch up to the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that was discovered in 1969. Launched 10 years ago the unmanned Rosetta spacecraft was sent to find out about the origins of comets.
Earlier in the week the Rosetta spaceship deployed the Philae Lander in an attempts to land on the comet and collect more data. Remember this is all at a speed of 41,000 mph! Successfully deployed from Rosetta the Philae lander experienced a mechanical problem with the harpoons on the feet of the lander and was unable to successfully anchor to the comets surface. The lander then bounced twice over the course of two hours before finally coming to rest in what appears to be a crater or up against a wall on the comet surface.
The Philae lander is resting in a spot that appears to be shielded from the sun, the vital source of power to keep the lander connected to the orbiting Rosetta 11 miles away from the comet surface and transmitting data in the form of imagery and other tests including digging into the comet surface. Currently the Philae lander has probably depleted the 60 hours of battery backup built into the lander. We did get some pictures from Philae released by the ESA of the 2nd decent at about 130 feet above the comet’s surface and then a second picture today of the position where Philae landed.
Picture above is Philae lander 130 feet above the comet’s surface.
The pictures are amazing and show a lot of dust and debris as large as 5m in size. It was also reported this morning that Philae was able to deploy a drill 10 inches into the comet. An unfortunate part of the mission is the 25-28 minute lag that it takes to communicate with the Philae lander via the Rosetta craft. Remember the comet is 311 million miles away from the earth! This is an amazing accomplishment and in spite of the medias best attempt to focus on Kim Kardashian’s ass this is an incalculable more historic event and worthy of as much press as possible. Thanks to the ESA for their hard work over the 10 years of the mission and countless years prepping for it and releasing this amazing success and photos for us to enjoy!
Picture above is Philae lander’s final resting place on the comet’s surface.