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Philae lander faced trouble in initial landing; Rosetta comet mission now stable

Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) faced a few nervous minutes after the initial reports suggested that Philae bounced across the comet surface and faced trouble in its initial landing.


Philae lander faced trouble in initial landing; Rosetta comet mission now stable
ESA

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) faced a few nervous minutes after the initial reports suggested that Philae bounced across the comet surface and faced trouble in its initial landing.

The scientists breathed a sigh of relief only after it was confirmed that Philae is now stable after a failed attempt to tether itself firmly to the comet's surface as its harpoons could not be fired and also due to comet's weak gravity.

Philae lander has already sent a high quality picture of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today.

Still, there are concerns about the longer-term stability of Philae, because it is not properly anchored.

There are worries about drilling into the comet, because this too could affect the stability of the lander, the BBC report said, citing Philae project manager Stephan Ulamec.

"We are still not anchored. We are sitting with the weight of the lander somehow on the comet... now we are sitting there, and transmitting, and everything else is something we have to start understanding and keep interpreting," Ulamec was quoted as saying.

Holger Sierks, the principal investigator of the science cameras on Philae's mother ship, Rosetta, which is circling the comet overhead, was quoted saying to a news agency: “His team was now trying to take pictures of the robot on the comet's surfac”.

These pictures will help controllers understand where the probe came to rest after bouncing off.

The Philae lander reached the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a large mass of ice and dust some 510 million km away, Wednesday after a decade-long chase through space.

The robotic probe, the size of a washing machine, was dropped on the comet from its mother ship Rosetta 13.6 miles away and took seven hours travelling down to the comet's surface.

The Rosetta mission marked the first rendezvous with a comet's orbit and the first soft landing on a comet's surface.

The probe will take pictures of the cometscape and analyse the chemical composition of the comet's surface to test several hypotheses about the origins of life and the universe.

(With Agency inputs)

 

From Zee News

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