Rosetta team spots glint of light that could be comet lander

Rosetta team spots glint of light that could be comet lander
Zooming in towards the current CONSERT ellipse, a number of bright dots are seen in the region. As only one (at most) of these could be the lander, the majority must be associated with surface features on the comet nucleus. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The European Space Agency says it may have caught a glimpse of its missing comet lander.

Philae became the first spacecraft land on a comet, but its exact location has been a mystery since it touched down on the surface of 67P in November.

ESA said Thursday that scientists analyzed images and other data from the lander and mother ship Rosetta. They identified several possible locations including one bright spot described as "a good candidate for the lander."

Rosetta was unable to fly by the site for a closer look since December because the comet is releasing gas and dust as it nears the sun in the next months.

Chances of finding Philae will be boosted if the lander gathers enough to wake up and send a signal.

This movie shows a zoom into the 13 December 2015 OSIRIS narrow-angle camera image taken from a distance of about 20 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. A large number of bright spots are seen: as only one (at most) of them could be Philae, the majority must be associated with surface features on the comet nucleus. The movie ends on a promising candidate located just outside the CONSERT error ellipse (marked): this candidate was not seen in 22 October images, but appears in images taken on both 12 and 13 December. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
  • Rosetta team spots glint of light that could be comet lander
    ‘Before’ and ‘after’ comparison images of a promising candidate located near the CONSERT ellipse as seen in images from the OSIRIS Narrow-Angle Camera. Each box covers roughly 20 x 20 m on Comet 67P/C-G. The left-hand image shows the region as seen on 22 October (before the landing of Philae) from a distance of about 10 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G, while the centre and right-hand images shows the same region on 12 and 13 December from 20 km (after landing). The candidate is only seen in the two later images. The illumination conditions are broadly similar in the three images and the same topography can be recognised in each case. The difference in distance at which the images were taken yields a difference in resolution and thus the December images have been resampled and interpolated to match the scale of the October image. As a result, the candidate covers more pixels calculated for a Philae-sized object seen by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera from a distance of 18 km to the surface. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
  • Rosetta team spots glint of light that could be comet lander
    The current 16 x 160 m CONSERT ellipse overlaid on an OSIRIS narrow-angle camera image of the same region. The location and size of the ellipse is not accurate at the pixel level, and may also change as further CONSERT data analysis proceeds and more detailed comet shape models become available. The OSIRIS image is a slightly cropped 2 x 2 mosaic of NAC images taken from a distance of approximately 18 km from the surface of the comet on 13 December 2014. At this distance, the resolution of NAC is approximately 34 cm per pixel, and the full mosaic covers roughly 1.3 km. Credit: Ellipse: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CONSERT; Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
  • Rosetta team spots glint of light that could be comet lander
    Approximate locations of five lander candidates initially identified in high-resolution OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera images taken in December 2014, from a distance of about 20 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The candidates are circled in the close-ups, identifying Philae-sized features approximately 1–2 m across. The contrast has been stretched in some of the images to better reveal the candidates. All but one of these candidates (top left) have subsequently been ruled out of consideration due to constraints including the reconstructed lander trajectory and topography at the landing site. The candidate at top left lies near to the current CONSERT ellipse. Credit: Centre image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0; insets: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

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Europe's Rosetta craft swoops for close look at comet

More information: blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2015/06/ … st-to-find-philae-2/

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Jun 11, 2015
Ugh that's rough, you can tell where they were aiming for haha

Jun 12, 2015
well, if one of the shiny things do turn up to be Philae, it at least is receiving some light now.

Jun 14, 2015
"first spacecraft [to] land on a comet". So now, crash = land? Landing was unsuccessful. First touchdown failed, additional contacts were uncontrolled (crashes). Resulting in a lander at an unknown location in a position where inadequate sunlight was available to the functioning solar cells. Since the ESA information on this flight has been demonstrably - and intentionally - misleading, I see no reason to believe anything they say. What was it? 90% of Philae's mission was accomplished? LOL.


The lander has awoken and reports good health. Battery temperature -35 C and solar power up to 24 Watts. They're ready for more science.

http://blogs.esa....rnation/

According to the data it sent out, it's been awake for a while now, but only managed radio contact recently.

Jun 14, 2015
So now, crash = land?


Philae has a flywheel built into it as part of the attitude control mechanism of the active landing system - to prevent it from tipping over during landing - so it didn't crash and tumble.

The gravity on the comet is so weak that you could fart yourself to escape velocity, which is why even a small rebound leaves you hanging for a long time. Philae simply bounced up like a pogo stick and the comet rotated underneath it. It came down on its feet every time.

The first touchdown happened at less than 1 meters per second. You can emulate the impact by bumping chest-first into a wall at roughly half the speed you'd normally walk.

Jun 14, 2015
Awesome news!

@Eikka, thanks for the link :)

Jun 14, 2015
@Eikka
Philae has a flywheel built into it as part of the attitude control mechanism of the active landing system - to prevent it from tipping over during landing - so it didn't crash and tumble.
The flywheel was turn off at first touchdown but its kinetic momentum was transferred to the craft so its attitude was kept in the plane field for a while. If it would had bounce any further it could had landed upside down; thankfully it was caught by the edge of hatmehit.

Jun 14, 2015
What I wrote earlier was as I recalled. I found a video where Stephan Ulamec is confirming what I said. Listen at around 2:30 https://www.youtu...fRBQwUYo

Jun 19, 2015
If it would had bounce any further it could had landed upside down; thankfully it was caught by the edge of hatmehit.


The flywheel inside the craft was still spinning as it was winding down. Friction on the bearings would indeed put the entire craft to a slight spin, but that would not be significant in that timeframe because the bearings are very very fine - it would take days to spin it down entirely after being powered off.

If the bounce had been high enough to take it to the -opposite- side of the comet, it would have landed upside down, or on its side if it was a quarter turn around, but the dampening mechanism in the landing legs killed the bounce at each rebound and it's unlikely it would have made a significant third bounce in any case.


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