Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Ever more, sci-fi is becoming sci-fact. The European Space Agency have successfully put the Philae lander on the surface of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Comet after 10+ years of travel aboard the Rosetta spacecraft. It's an amazing accomplishment for them, and ultimately mankind, certainly worthy of discussion, as well as contemplation of what me might learn, and where the future lies for further exploration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the moment they seem to have a problem with the ice the comet consists off. Apparently it is too soft for the spikes the Philae attaches itself to the comet. At the moment they are trying to solve this problem so they can start with the experiments.

I'm super exited though. Sadly almost no media coverage in my country for an event that is comparable with the Moon landing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I watched a special on the Science Channel where the scientists explained what needed to be done to just get the thing out there, and then the really mind-boggling calculations to slow it down and create a flight pattern around it so that they could map it. Then they had a panel with scientists vs engineers to determine where to set down. Bear in mind that once the lander was released from the satellite, it was in an unguided freefall, so they had to have their calculations perfect, and all environmental factors needed to be optimal for successful landing. It was such a longshot; the fact that they did it, mechanical issues notwithstanding, is a monumental achievement that really should have received more fanfare. Unfortunately, it's not fast paced or violent, and thus uninteresting to most people today, esp young people.

Too, I'd say that the realism we're used to in movies kind of ruins the excitement of these events as well; the cerebral side of it is really what's impressive and exciting. All I've seen of the actual landing was a still shot of the comet taken from 3M during freefall. Not very exciting stuff for today's crowd, esp Americans, for which everything needs to be moving a mile a minute to keep their ADD in check. :rolleyes::ph34r:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm super exited though. Sadly almost no media coverage in my country for an event that is comparable with the Moon landing.

It's impressive, but I wouldn't say it's comparable to Apollo. Apollo put MEN on the moon, not a remote-control lander. And brought them back at the end of the mission. That's FAR harder, and it's why we celebrate Apollo 11 while Luna 9 is forgotten.

THAT SAID... that the lander managed a successful landing on effectively unknown terrain, with BOTH initial anchor mechanisms offline(top thruster to thrust down, harpoon gun to kill the whale tether the lander), ON AUTOPILOT(by necessity due to the several minutes of light lag) is VERY impressive. I mean not to belittle the ESA's efforts. Especially their coders, because that's an impressive little bundle of logic there.

Now let's put a man on that comet!111

(Actually, a manned mission to Ceres would be awesome. But let's get back to the Moon and get to Mars before we start raiding asteroids.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly the Philae is tilted 90 degrees sideways and resting on the side instead of the landing struts. Now the solar panels don't produce enough energy to keep the experiments going after the main battery is drained from all its energy. So they try to get as much data from the comet as possible until the lander goes dead next Saturday. Also they won't be able to use the drill because Philae is not attached safely.

Bummer. :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bummer indeed. I was really excited by the news so far. I'll be the team responsible for its performance thus far are absolutely gutted.

UPDATE:

I read some articles and it actually looks like they've got some options to move it enough to make recharging the batteries more viable. Looks like there's plenty to keep the guys busy for a while.

Edited by mickyg
Link to comment
Share on other sites

(...) It was such a longshot; the fact that they did it, mechanical issues notwithstanding, is a monumental achievement that really should have received more fanfare. Unfortunately, it's not fast paced or violent, and thus uninteresting to most people today, esp young people.

It made it onto the TV news story here in Japan, but I think they focused mostly on the "they landed" aspect, and not the rest of the mission - as some of adult students (50 to 70 years old) they were floored when I told them that the main probe has been flying for 10 years, and that it took that long to meet up with the comet, near the orbit of Jupiter.

I read some articles and it actually looks like they've got some options to move it enough to make recharging the batteries more viable. Looks like there's plenty to keep the guys busy for a while.

The last article I read on BBC last night before bed suggested the possibility of using the harpoon mechanisms to "launch" it from its current position, but they weren't even going to consider doing that until they knew more about Philae's current surroundings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly the Philae is tilted 90 degrees sideways and resting on the side instead of the landing struts. Now the solar panels don't produce enough energy to keep the experiments going after the main battery is drained from all its energy.

Also seems to be near a ridge facing the sun, which is casting a shadow across it.

Basically, it bounced from a nice landing spot to darn near a worst-case scenario.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like Philae has gone silent, for now at least, there is hope that it might be able to recharge its powercells over the next couple months. At least it accomplished its primary missions before the batteries ran dry. I wonder if they will set Rosetta to try and find it now, if they know where it is better then they might be able to right it once power is restored.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a bit of a blow to the scientists, though, who were looking forward to mining as much data from it as possible, had it landed in an optimal area. I can only imagine the frustration, waiting 10 years, having it actually land in its projected spot, only to find out it had bounced into the most non-optimal spot where it can't get the sunlight it needs to fulfill the rest of its mission. It has to take an emotional toll on those folks, and I'm actually surprised they didn't try a last ditch to right it or even nudge it out of its current spot. I'd think it worth the gamble at this point. Worst case, it separates from the comet and is lost in space, as opposed to remaining in situ, dead.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DH is right, with the comet on an inbound trajectory Philae will get plenty of power in the coming months, best to wait it out, power it up and try and locate it in the mean time to see if it can be re positioned. If not, do what you can on the spot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, that's good news indeed. I haven't looked at any news articles of late, so I'm out of the currency loop, except for what's posted here. I'm hopeful that they'll achieve some unprecedented science as the comet approaches the sun. To that end, patience is a virtue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can only imagine the frustration, waiting 10 years, having it actually land in its projected spot, only to find out it had bounced into the most non-optimal spot where it can't get the sunlight it needs to fulfill the rest of its mission. It has to take an emotional toll on those folks,

Agreed.

and I'm actually surprised they didn't try a last ditch to right it or even nudge it out of its current spot. I'd think it worth the gamble at this point.

In a way they did - when they deployed the drill. However, without knowing exactly where it is (finding it being one of the current focuses of the overall mission), they apparently decided to not try other higher risk things that could make it jump.

The mission scientist even think its lying almost on its side! No point in really trying to make it move if all it's going to do is ram headfirst into a cliff face, after all. ;)

Nevertheless, until it gets more sunlight (= power), reactivates from standby mode, and they reestablish two-way communications, there's nothing anyone can do right now.

Edited by sketchley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The big concern long-term is going to be temperature. Most space probes have heaters to keep the more delicate partd from being damaged by the cold. I assume Philae is no different.

With no power, Philae's heater is off. When the sun comes back, it'll be a crapshoot if it comes back up fine or if the the thermal transitions have cracked solder joints left and right. I'm rootin' for it, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...