Even though the ESA will call this a success, and it is, don’t get me wrong, the Philae lander did not land perfectly as hoped on the comet surface. The harpoons designed into the feet of the Philae lander did not deploy which caused it to “bounce” twice before finally coming to rest on the surface. Luckily there is a minimal amount of gravity on the 2-1/2 mile wide comment circling the sun that eventually brought the lander down in what appears to be a “ditch or we are against a wall” said ESA Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor. It took two hours after the initial “bounce” to finally come to a resting place.
One picture has been released:
The first image from the surface is in fact a mosaic of two images taken by the lander’s CIVA (the Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser) camera. It shows one of Philae’s landing legs and the craggy surface. ESA had been expecting a view of the horizon so the scientists believe the craft is not on a flat surface.
“We are definitely not in the open,” said Fred Jansen, ESA Rosetta mission manager.
The Philae lander has 60 hours of battery life and then will need the sun and it’s solar power to keep it going. The fear is that where the lander is located may not allow it to receive any of the suns rays. Even still there is a wealth of information that the lander will provide and ESA is trying to use the Rosetta spacecraft with the Philae lander’s equipment to try to triangulate the position of the lander on the comet.
4 more pictures are said to be released today and we will just have to wait and see if the lander will be able to recharge it’s power source and keep working. Regardless of the outcome, the ESA can be proud of their major accomplishment that can never be taken away, they were the first ones to land a craft on a comet. (hauling ass at 31K mph!)