SEP 05, 2016 9:38 AM PDT

Rosetta Snaps Clear Photo of Philae Lander Stuck in a Ditch on Comet 67P

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

New images from Rosetta's Osiris instrument show Philae in vividly-clear detail on comet 67P's surface. Astronomers say the new photographs could help us learn more about the photographs Philae took during its operation, as we now know exactly where it is and how it was oriented.
 

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team/NavCam

The European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander made history in 2014 when it landed on comet 67P. It was the first man-made object to ever land on a comet for study, and although there were a lot of high hopes for Philae, the landing unfortunately didn’t quite go as planned.
 
Philae ended up landing in a dark ditch where the Sun was unable to power the lander’s solar array. As a result, Philae is unable to collect the power it needs to operate at its full expectations and has been ignoring communication attempts since. Moreover, the landing was a little bumpier than expected, so it’s thought to have taken some damage as well.
 
Despite the fact Philae essentially crash-landed in the wrong spot on 67P, the ESA worked hard to keep trying to communicate with it, and simply had no good luck. They decided that they were going to crash its mother ship, Rosetta, into 67P and give up on the mission altogether.
 
Of course, now and out of the blue, the ESA has some exciting news regarding Philae. Just weeks before the Rosetta suicide mission was expected to go down, Rosetta has managed to snap a photograph of Philae’s exact location on the comet with its Osiris instrument.
 
The photograph below shows Philae stranded in a dark ditch on 67P, just out of the Sun’s reach. The ESA says that the photographs are ‘as clear as day,’ so there’s no refuting that what we see here is indeed the Philae lander.
 

Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team

"With only a month left of the Rosetta mission, we are so happy to have finally imaged Philae, and to see it in such amazing detail," Cecilia Tubiana of the ESA’s Osiris team said.
 
What’s more is now that we know Philae’s exact location on 67P, the ESA can put into perspective some of the photographs Philae took just after its landing before going dormant. Because we had no idea where Philae landed (because remember, it was somewhere in a dark ditch), the ESA never really knew what they were looking at.
 
"This wonderful news means that we now have the missing 'ground-truth' information needed to put Philae's three days of science into proper context, now that we know where that ground actually is!" said Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor.
 
The suicide mission for Rosetta isn’t going to be cancelled all because of an exciting photograph, unfortunately. The mission is still a complete bust due to the fact that Philae hasn’t been heard from since mid-2015. The ESA officially killed contact with the Philae lander back in July.
 
This gem of a photograph will simply allow the ESA to start connecting the dots, and that’s a valuable discovery.
 
Source: ESA via BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JAN 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 05, 2020
Is Betelgeuse on the Verge of Going Supernova?
There’s been a lot of discussion happening as of late with respect to the Orion constellation’s red supergia ...
JAN 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
JAN 06, 2020
Physics in Peril? (Part III) - A Problem at A Cosmic Scale
It is safe to say that astrophysicist Edwin Hubble redefined the universe as we knew back in the early 20th century.&nbs ...
FEB 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 09, 2020
NASA's Christina Koch Returns From Space After Shattering Records
NASA astronaut Christina Koch set a new record at the end of 2019 when she spent more consecutive days in space than any ...
APR 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 12, 2020
NASA Attaches Autonomous Helicopter to Perseverance Rover
Those paying any attention to NASA’s periodic updates during these past several weeks should have perceived what s ...
APR 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 10, 2020
Discovery on solar interstellar magnetic field
New information on the solar neighborhood has allowed researchers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Un ...
APR 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 14, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About the ESA's Upcoming JUICE Mission
Jupiter is one of the most interesting planets in our solar system, and with that in mind, it may not come off as much o ...
Loading Comments...