Solar System Chatter

Hello Philae!

Main image and lander inset: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA. Context: ESA/Rosetta/ NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
Main image and lander inset: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA. Context: ESA/Rosetta/ NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
When ESA’s Philae lander made its descent and epic two-hour-long bounce on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014, mission scientists were relieved to establish communication, but they were never able to get a visual of where it settled on the surface. Now, less than a month before the Rosetta orbiter is scheduled to end its mission by taking a dive into the comet, it has finally spotted the missing lander. The team had been using radio ranging data to narrow down the area where Philae might be, and on September 2, they used Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera as it orbited about a mile and a half above the surface to survey the location. When Rosetta sent the images back to Earth, the team could clearly see Philae’s body and two of its three legs sticking jammed into a dark crevice.

Heather Goss is the Departments Editor at Air & Space.

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comet, Philae, Rosetta