ESA Releases Video Of Philae Lander's Unique Trip Over A Comet

Posted: Nov 15 2015, 9:27pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Philae Lander Bounces and Tumbles Across a Comet
Philae's first view at Abydos ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

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Video consists of Philae's unique trip over the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The European Space Agency’s spacecraft Rosetta arrived at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and released the bot Philae on the comet’s surface on November 12, 2014.

Upon the completion of one year, the ESA released a new video in which the lander tumbles and bounces across the comet and takes you on a remarkable trip over the icy object.

Philae provided extensive information about comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko ever since its landed on the surface and helped scientists better understand the composition and structure of the comet.

After separating from Rosetta, Philae made a two hour flight from location Agilkia to Abydos. Scientists modeled the interaction of Philae with the Agilkia surface. Its free flight and the bounce dynamics were reconstructed and the whole flight was depicted visually. Throughout the seven hour descent, it had three touchdowns and made one collision as well.

Scientists also tried to find out why Philae bounced on surface as it had involved three methods for secure traveling over the comet. But all three methods ice screws, harpoons and a small thruster could not prevent it from bouncing. Though, they were capable of working on both soft and hard surfaces.

Despite the unexpected bouncing, Philae performed most of the planned tasks before it switched off on November 15 when its primary battery was exhausted. The last time the contact with was made with the lander was on July 9.

Meantime, the lander team continued analyzing data that has been sent by Philae on June and July. The mission has been extended from December 15 to September 2016.

“We recently celebrated our first year at the comet and we are looking forward to the scientific discoveries the next year will bring.” Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist said.

Sylvain Lodiot, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft operations manager explains the future tasks. “We are still discussing exactly what the final end of mission scenario will involve. It is very complex and challenging, even more so even than the lander delivery trajectory our flight dynamics teams had to plan for delivering Philae.”

Source: European Space Agency

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