I’ve not posted a Rosetta update in a little while. The spacecraft is still at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
This image is part of a four-frame mosaic and shows both lobes of the comet. Of particular interest is the 1 km wide depression on the left. It is thought this is the area where the little Philae lander ended up. High resolution imaging is being used to search for the lander – see “Homing in on Philae’s final landing site“.
This orientation also provides a good view onto the plateau that was previously considered as candidate landing site A – close to the ‘join’ between the two right-hand side images frames. The dark circular region is a large pit. The cliff walls that drop down onto this plateau seem to show slightly brighter sections, perhaps reflecting compositional differences, or fresher material that has yet to be degraded by exposure to the space environment.
The Philae lander might be hibernating and as far as I know the whereabouts of the lander isn’t known for sure, we do know about the journey.
The mosaic above is a series of images taken by the OSIRIS narrow angle camera aboard Rosetta over about a half hour. At the time Rosetta was only 15.5 km / 28 miles from the surface of the comet.
The mosaic captures Philae starting at the lower left and follows it upward as labeled on the image.
Like I said in the beginning, mission managers don’t know where Philae is but they will find it. It is known the lander was moving east with a rate of travel about a half a meter per second, that’s really slow for a spacecraft. Think about a leisurely walk, now go slower by better than half, on average, you would still probably beat Philae in a race.
Will Philae be found? I would say yes most likely it will. Data returned from the mission including the CONSERT ranging data, OSIRIS and navcam images on Rosetta along with Philae’s ROLIS and CIVA cameras should reveal the resting spot. When the lander is found mission managers will have a much better idea about the future of the mission.
The Philae lander is now in an “idle mode” in which most of the systems on board are shut down, including communications.
Before going to sleep, Philae was able to send all of the science data collected so far and completed its main mission in the 57 hours on the comet surface.
Stephan Ulamec, Lander Manager said “This machine performed magnificently under tough conditions, and we can be fully proud of the incredible scientific success Philae has delivered.”
Contact with Philae was lost at 00:36 UT (20:36 EST for the US), according to Rosetta Blog this was about the time of a scheduled loss of signal anyway as Rosetta which was acting as a repeater orbited out of sight of Philae.
Rosetta mission control did try to rotate the lander as was reported and with that effort there was a possibility of communications at 10:00 UTC (05:00 EST) this morning (15 Nov) so Rosetta was listening but no signal came.
As Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko gets closer to the Sun there is a possibility enough sunlight will eventually revive the batteries enough to get Philae back on-line. Still I have to wonder if the deep discharge state of the batteries will preclude that given the time and cold environment – time will tell.
Philae is pretty close to a cliff that will shadow the solar panels for much of a day and this will limit how much Philae will be able to do at least in the short term. I’m pretty sure ESA is studying how to squeeze the most out of what they have you can be sure of that.
ESA is live streaming the media briefings, you can find out when by going to Rosetta Blog or you can check the Live Stream page.
Don’t forget about Twitter, I am on the run a lot the past couple days and it has been great for keeping up you can get all the images and briefings there too.
As the Philae lander approached comet 67P/G-C it used the ROLIS instrument to take this image at 14:38:41 UT from just 3 km / 1.9 miles above the surface.
The ROLIS instrument looks downward during descent and gets close up views after landing so texture and microsturcture of surface materials.
Yes, that is part of the lander you see in the upper right.
ROLIS (ROsetta Lander Imaging System) is a descent and close-up camera on the Philae Lander. It has been developed by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin.
I had to include the image below, I think it’s just excellent. We are looking at the Philae lander shortly after being released from the mother ship (Rosetta) after a 10 year trip together on this totally amazing mission.
No word yet on what is going on with the harpoons (anchors), but ESA did mention “Maybe today we didn’t just land once…we even landed twice!”
There will be plenty more images here, but check out the Rosetta Blog.
A timeline of the science operations that Rosetta’s lander Philae will perform during the first 2.5 days on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
It does not include the experiments conducted during the seven-hour descent or immediately upon touchdown and in the 40 minutes after as the separation, descent and landing operations and experiments conclude (see this graphic for a summary of those activities).
An image on 04 November shows some activity in the way of the jets emanating from the central region of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve developed quite an interest in what the cometary “soil” is like and how it got to be the way it is. Happily we could get more clues just watching the Philae lander land on Wednesday. If the composition is very fine we could see quite a cloud kicked up relative to how much is at the landing site of course.
If you would like the four individual panels making up this image you can get them at Comet Watch