Philae unanchored and bounced – but now stable – on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Philae successfully separated from Rosetta and arrived at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It did land but its anchoring harpoons apparently failed to fire.  Magnetic field data indicates that Philae has touched down at least 3 times. After the first, the lander bounced and took over 2 hours to touch down again. It bounced again and then touched down 7 minutes later. It is hoped that it has come to rest with the 3rd touchdown but this will not be confirmed till this morning. (Update! It has just been confirmed that the lander is on the surface, stable and sending pictures. Its attitude is not known but full data transmission seems to have been established. Data on the tomography of the comet’s nucleus is also being transmitted).

A remarkable achievement after a 10 year journey. Now the Rosetta orbiter will remain in close proximity to the comet and will accompany it as it approaches the Sun. The Rosetta mission is due to end in December 2015. “By then, both the spacecraft and the comet will have circled the Sun and be on their way out of the inner Solar System”.

Philae bouncing

The Rolis instrument on Philae took this picture on descent:


The image shows comet 67P/CG acquired by the ROLIS instrument on the Philae lander during descent on Nov 12, 2014 14:38:41 UT from a distance of approximately 3 km from the surface. The landing site is imaged with a resolution of about 3m per pixel.

The ROLIS instrument is a down-looking imager that acquires images during the descent and doubles as a multispectral close-up camera after the landing. The aim of the ROLIS experiment is to study the texture and microstructure of the comet’s surface. 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. The lander separated from the orbiter at 09:03 GMT (10:03 CET) and touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko seven hours later.

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