Philae lander 'bounced twice' on comet but is now stable, confirm Rosetta mission scientists
Philae, the robot probe that made a historic landing on a comet is now stable after failing to attach to the surface.
Berlin/Frankfurt: Philae, the robot probe that made a historic landing on a comet is now stable after failing to attach to the surface.
According to previous data Philae landed at least three times on the comet, after harpoons failed to attach it to the surface on the first attempt.
The 100-kg (220-pound) lander - virtually weightless on the comet`s surface - touched down on schedule at about 1600 GMT after a seven-hour descent from its orbiting mothership Rosetta, now located a half-billion kilometres (300 million miles) from Earth.
But during the free-fall to the comet’s surface, harpoons designed to anchor the probe, named Philae, failed to deploy. Flight directors are considering options to ensure the lander does not drift back into space.
But according to fresh reports the probe is now stable, even after magnetic field anlaysis from the craft reported three separate landings at 15:33, 17:26 and 17:33, suggesting a high initial bounce and second a smaller one.
Now that it has been confirmed as stable, the Philae lander will travel with the comet as it continues its journey around the Sun. It should witness the plumes of vapourised gases emitted from the icy surface as the comet feels the rising heat of its orbital summer.