Rosetta’s lander Philae.

Rosetta’s lander Philae has landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae_s_primary_landing_site_mosaicPhilae’s primary landing site mosaic.

On 6 August 2014, the Rosetta mission achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first mission to rendezvous with a comet. During the coming months, Rosetta will orbit the comet, deploy the Philae lander and accompany the comet through perihelion (August 2015) until the nominal end of the mission. During its 10 year journey towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the spacecraft has passed by two asteroids: 2867 Steins (in 2008) and 21 Lutetia (in 2010). The spacecraft entered deep-space hibernation mode in June 2011, and ‘woke up’ on 20 January 2014.

Journey milestones:
1st Earth gravity assist: 4 March 2005
Mars gravity assist: 25 February 2007
2nd Earth gravity assist: 13 November 2007
Asteroid Steins flyby: 5 September 2008
3rd Earth gravity assist: 13 November 2009
Asteroid Lutetia flyby: 10 July 2010
Enter deep space hibernation: 8 June 2011
Exit deep space hibernation: 20 January 2014
Comet rendezvous manoeuvres: May – August 2014
Arrival at comet: 6 August 2014
Philae lander delivery: November 2014
Closest approach to Sun: 13 August 2015

rolis_web_img5The comet seen by Philae from 40 metres above the surface. ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

Touchdown was confirmed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 16:03 GMT/17:03 CET on 12 November. Studying the first data returned from the lander, revealed the astonishing conclusion that the lander did not just touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko once, but three times.

ESA_Rosetta_OSIRIS_FirstTouchdown-1024x702The mosaic comprises a series of images captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera over a 30 minute period spanning the first touchdown. The time of each of image is marked on the corresponding insets and is in GMT. A comparison of the touchdown area shortly before and after first contact with the surface is also provided.

The images were taken with Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera when the spacecraft was 17.5 km from the comet centre, or roughly 15.5 km from the surface. They have a resolution of 28 cm/pixel and the enlarged inserts are 17 x 17 m.

Above images and information obtained from ESA web site.

A fantastic achievement: I wonder what discoveries are going to be made in the coming months ?

This is as important as watching the first moon landings. I still have lots of news clippings & magazine articles, not to mention that famous Earth image. I could never have believed that a mission landing an object on a comet would be achieved in my lifetime. Moore’s Law has a lot to answer for  🙂

4 thoughts on “Rosetta’s lander Philae.

  1. The achievement is incredible as you note, especially when the time lapse and distance is considered. The milestone I hope I am alive for is the first either orbit or landing on Mars by humans – might not make it though because I like wine and good food too much!

    1. Fantastic achievement when one thinks of the distances involved and the size of the target. Like you, I was unable to drag myself away from any news I could find.

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