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Tag Archives: Comets
The news hasn’t been officially released by ESA and the details have yet to be assessed after the analysis of the data sent by the lander Philae before it went into hibernation. Unofficially, one of the Philae’s instruments detected organic molecules in the tenuous atmosphere of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko created by the ice sublimation. Meanwhile, ESA has released the images captured by the Rosetta space probe that show Philae’s trajectory after it touched down for the first time on the comet’s surface.
After the understandable enthusiasm felt last Wednesday for the success of the Philae lander with its landing on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the team had to face the harsh reality. The area in which it ended up wasn’t the planned one and there it received much less light than expected. The consequence is that its batteries ran out of power a few hours ago making it hibernate. But before it worked for a few hours and transmitted a lot of data.
All this happened because the harpoons system that was supposed to anchor Philae to the ground didn’t work and the information gathered since then allowed to establish that it touched down three times before stabilizing. The instruments work but Philae was receiving much less sunlight than expected with serious consequences for the energy it had available for its instruments.
ESA has just confirmed that the Philae lander successfully landed on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It’s the first time that a spacecraft arrived from Earth manages to land on the surface of a comet. This success is the culmination of many years of effort but it’s just the beginning of a new phase of the Rosetta mission.
While the Rosetta space probe’s Philae lander prepares to land on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, the analyzes at a distance go on. The comet is about 450 million kilometers (about 280 million miles) from the Sun and its activity is increasing due to the sublimation of the ice, which becomes steam. The ROSINA (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis) instrument has already analyzed some emissions finding that the comet really stinks.
Yesterday the comet C/2013 A1, also known as Siding Spring, passed very close to Mars. The distance from the planet was as low as about 140,000 km (about 87,000 miles), one third of the distance of the Moon from Earth, very close in astronomical terms. The event was followed by several telescopes but nearby ther was was the Earth’s “star fleet” consisting of NASA’s probes and rovers, ESA’s Mars Express probe and the Indian MOM – aka Mangalyaan – probe.
Using a camera included in the Comet Infrared and Visible Analyser (CIVA) of its lander Philae, a few days ago the Rosetta space probe took a really special selfie. On October 7, it was at a distance of about 16 km (about 10 miles) from the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which appears in the background of the photo, above one of the spacecraft’s solar panels.