Rosetta lands on comet today

It is an interesting space science evening tonight because of Rosetta mission. You can expect a historic landing attempt to land a probe to comet. The ESA’s comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta will send its lander Philae towards Comet 67P on Wednesday. The comet is hurtling through space at 135,000km per hour towards the Sun (500 million kilometers from Earth), and the ESA hopes Philae will be able to separate from Rosetta, get close enough to harpoon the space rock and draw itself in to land on comet surface. Once on the rock, the lander will drill into the surface.

According to Status update – 11 November it had been busy night for the Rosetta and Philae operations team. There had been some issues, but things seems to be OK at the moment. Expect to see real action on the evening at Rosetta #CometLanding webcast.

Finnish space technology industry is are well presented in this event as told by Digitoday: One event in particular the waiting party is Finnish weather forecast organization that emphasizes the major role in the Rosetta mission. The plant is mainly responsible for Philae water content measuring sensor that touches the comet first. It was also involved in four other instrument, for the understanding of the comet’s dust and plasma environment. Patria has designed and manufactured two Rosetta electronic power distribution units and the spacecraft structure. This science-driven project has required a wide range of Finnish industrial subcontractors. Size of the Rosetta mission‘s price is around 1.3 billion euros. Finnish scientific equipment, accounts for “only” about 4.9 million.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Bad that in this kind of historic event the webcast at
    Was nice to follow, but unfortunately after some time it failed with following error:

    Error 503 backend read error
    backend read error
    Guru Mediation:
    Details: cache-fra1239-FRA 1415807187 1750227348
    Varnish cache server

    When does the webcasting become reliable on mass events?

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Just when I posted previous comment it started to work again nicely.
    Good thing that they seem to know what they are doing and can fix issued quickly. Big plus.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Landing seemed to be successful!
    Telemetry data is coming.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I read from other source that ESA had around 500 000 viewers on their feed..
    Well played with this large number of viewers.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Good that today science fiction has turned science fact on this success on this mission.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Huge historic operation was successful: Philae landed on a comet
    The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft left the Philae he just across the comet’s surface.

    Tweetted in Finnish: “Perillä! Uusi osoitteeni on: 67P!” (=”Arrived! My new address is: 67P!”)
    Philae tweeted the same also in many other languages.

    Data from landing came a little after six in the evening (Finnish time), after waiting a couple of minutes.


  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Finnish installation on the surface of the comet – “A big step for the whole country”

    The Finnish Meteorological Institute celebrates the Philae lander successful arrival of the comet’s surface.

    - This is a big step in the Finnish space technology, and I would even say that the whole of Finland, Palmroth says.


  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    First pictures are coming in:

    Farewell Philae – narrow-angle view
    Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera captured this parting shot of the Philae lander after separation.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    BOING BOING! Philae bounced TWICE on Comet 67P
    Lander now screwed down good and tight … we hope

    It almost sounds like a cartoon from the 1950s: The Philae lander, which on 12 November had a successful rendezvous with Comet 67P after being released by the Rosetta spacecraft, bounced not once but twice, before finally settling on the surface of the space-rock.

    As reported quite soon after the landing, the boffins in charge of the mission realised that Philae failed to fire the harpoons that were intended to anchor it onto 67P.

    Without the harpoons, the lander is probably anchored by the ice-screw legs that were designed to drill into the surface.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Philae healthier, beams… CHEESE: Proud ESA shows off FIRST COMET SURFACE PIC
    Harpoon horror over, it’s now ‘stable’

    The ESA’s historic comet-landing probot Philae has re-established contact with mission control and is currently stable on the surface. El Reg’s space vulture Brid-Aine Parnell reports from mission command at the ESA ops complex at Darmstadt, Germany.

    Boffins are still analysing exactly how the lander managed its epic touchdown yesterday when its harpoons failed to fire, but it now looks like the craft bounced twice before it finally finished landing.

    Data has in from Philae instruments including MUPUS, ROMAP, ROLIS, COSAC, CONSERT and Ptolemy, which makes it look like Philae landed three times, first making a huge two hour bounce and then briefly bouncing again for another seven minutes.

    The low gravity on Comet 67P, which turns Philae from a fridge-weight to lighter than a feather, is what caused the first long bounce.

    Just how or why the lander stopped bouncing, whether its ice-screw legs have drilled into the surface and other questions remain to be answered, but the first image from the CIVA instrument shows Philae sitting on the space-rock.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Philae one foot sticking out of space – the equipment is functioning

    The European Space Agency said in a press conference that only has two feet on the surface of comet 67P, and that the ship is almost up.

    Esa do not know yet exactly where the ship ended up. It landed first in the desired location, but hit into the air for almost two hours, hundreds of meters in height.

    The shadow is a problem because solar cells do not produce as much electricity as is thought

    Philae bounching is partly due to the fact that the track surface is harder than the Esan scientists had expected. The comet was believed to be dusty, but it is, at least in some areas of hard rock.


  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Comet Probe Philae Unanchored But Stable — And Sending Back Images

    “BBC now reports that Philae is stable on the surface. Although no source claims so, we can all imagine a faint humming of ‘Still Alive’ coming from the probe.” Not just stable, but sending pictures while it can.

    The probe left Rosetta with 60-plus hours of battery life, and will need at some point to charge up with its solar panels. But early reports indicate that in its present position, the robot is receiving only one-and-a-half hours of sunlight during every 12-hour rotation of the comet. This will not be enough to sustain operations.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta Probot DRILLING DENIED: Philae has ‘one leg in the AIR’
    NOT best position for scientific fulfillment

    Tough choices lie ahead for Rosetta’s Philae scientists after they discovered that the lander’s bouncing touchdown has pushed it into the shadow of a cliff, making it unlikely that its batteries can recharge.

    “We have a better understanding now about how we got there but we still don’t really know where!” said project manager Stephan Ulemac.

    The rebounds suggest that Philae didn’t land in the soft sandbox that boffins from the European Space Agency and German space agency DLR were expecting, but hit something a little harder instead.

    “That explains why we bounced so much, it’s like a trampoline,” Ulemac said.

    But because the lander is not anchored to the surface by its harpoons and it’s unclear how secure it is, deploying the drill is a big risk.

    “We’re almost vertical, one foot is probably in open space, two feet still on the surface, but you can imagine the sort of gentle manoeuvring we will have to do,”

    Any mechanical operations done by Philae risk dislodging it from the surface of the comet, depending on how it’s situated, which the team still needs more time to fully determine.

    There are a number of options for the team, but they plan to proceed logically – taking care of all the least risky experiments first before determining if chances are worth taking on Saturday, when the battery life starts winding down.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Comet in space to sing – Listen to the atmospheric sound clip

    The European Space Agency ESA, through the publication of high frequency sound track of the Finger snapping is somewhat reminiscent of dolphin sounds or a dart knocking.

    A beautiful song created by ESA, the vibration of the comet’s magnetic field. The sound is actually so low, about 40-50 millihertsin frequency that the human ear is able to hear it. ESA has raised a voice recording frequencies of the human auditory area


    The artist’s name ReYo passing a user to draw a comet’s gargling their own EDM version.

    Comments: Because we are in space where there is no air, the sounds can’t be traditional audio. They are recordings of magnetic fields played back as audio.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

    The Associated Press reports on one happy consequence of the inevitable shutdown of the Philae lander, after its incredible landing on Rosetta: the team that was in control of the lander here on earth finally gets to take a well-deserved break, after four nearly sleepless days and nights. It seems unlikely — though it’s not impossible — that Philae will get enough solar energy to briefly wake up again

    Comet scientists take break after 4 straight days

    BERLIN (AP) — The European Space Agency says that its scientists are taking a bit of a break after working for four days around the clock since the pioneering lander Philae touched down on a comet.

    ESA spokeswoman Jocelyn Landeau-Constantin told The Associated Press that most of the agency’s scientific teams were resting Sunday “after several sleepless nights.”

    Nonetheless, some scientists were still busy evaluating the data that Philae sent down to ESA on Saturday before its depleted batteries forced it to go silent.

    Philae landed Wednesday on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko about 311 million miles (500 million kilometers) from Earth, but then settled next to a cliff that largely blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Touchdown! ESA lands on comet
    Jessica MacNeil -November 13, 2014–ESA-lands-on-comet?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_review_20141114&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_review_20141114&elq=e0ee0265df234881b6ee1b3e673c00c5&elqCampaignId=20184

    A mission 20 years in the making made history yesterday when a spacecraft successfully achieved a soft-landing on a comet.

    The Rosetta mission was approved in 1993, and the European Space Agency (ESA) worked with its member states and NASA in an attempt to make history and gained valuable knowledge studying a comet from the surface. The Rosetta spacecraft launched in 2004 on a mission to reach Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G). Rosetta arrived at the comet in August 2014, after traveling 6.4 billion km over more than 10 years, and began preparation to deliver its Philae lander to the surface of the comet.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    THERE you are! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
    Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it’s a comet-catcher!

    European Space Agency (ESA) boffins reckon they may have located the final touchdown site for their comet-intercepting Philae lander, after its bouncy landing caused them to lose track of it temporarily.

    Over the weekend, ESA published a series of NAVCAM images taken by mother-satellite Rosetta, where the lander’s initial landing appeared to be marked by a dark shadow, indicating the dust-cloud thrown up when Philae first touched the comet.

    Upon further examination, ESA’s Flight Dynamics Team now think they’ve spotted Philae itself in the air with a second shadow cast by the lander.

    The historic craft shows up in the image as just a couple of brighter pixels, accompanied by its shadow in the form of a few darker pixels just below it.

    Philae is now in standby mode on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after its battery power ran down.

    The bouncing landing of Philae, which took it around a mile from its intended landing site, stuck the craft in the lee of a rock formation that has kept its solar panels mainly in shadow. Despite this, the plucky probot accomplished nearly all of the scientific investigations its team was hoping for and had enough juice to attempt the change in position.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IT’S LIFE, JIM? Rosetta comet probe stumbles on ‘organic’ stuff
    That’s it for God – if Philae lander on Comet 67P really has found complex molecules

    Scientists at the European Space Agency claim “organic” molecules have been found on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the doomed Philae lander.

    Dr Fred Goessmann, principal investigator on the Cometary Sampling and Composition instrument (COSAC), told BBC News that organic material was detected – but the team is still analyzing the results to see how complex the molecules are. Details are scant, to say the least.

    Philae landed on Comet 67/P on Wednesday, November 12 after traveling hundreds of millions of miles aboard its mothership, Rosetta.

    Comet landing: Organic molecules detected by Philae

    The Philae lander has detected organic molecules on the surface of its comet, scientists have confirmed.

    Carbon-containing “organics” are the basis of life on Earth and may give clues to chemical ingredients delivered to our planet early in its history.

    The compounds were picked up by a German-built instrument designed to “sniff” the comet’s thin atmosphere.

    Other analyses suggest the comet’s surface is largely water-ice covered with a thin dust layer.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Explainer: What Philae Did In Its 60 hours on Comet 67P

    The drama of Philae’s slow fall, bounce and unfortunate slide into hibernation was one of the most thrilling science stories of a generation. But what in its short 60 hours of life on Comet 67P did it achieve?

    The short answer is analytical chemistry.

    Philae’s payload included three instruments that are quite common in chemistry labs, but when deployed on a comet could answer questions about the origins of the solar system and life itself.

    Explainer: what Philae did in its 60 hours on Comet 67P

    The drama of Philae’s slow fall, bounce and unfortunate slide into hibernation was one of the most thrilling science stories of a generation. But what in its short 60 hours of life on Comet 67P did it achieve?

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
    And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P

    Scientists on the Rosetta comet mission team report they are confident that the Philae lander is not down for the count and should be revived in the spring or summer of next year once it has had a chance to warm up a bit.

    “We expect to have enough energy to boot around March next year. Then Philae needs to be heated until we can think of starting to charge the battery,” said Michael Maibaum, the Philae system engineer and deputy operations manager, during a Reddit chat session.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ESA finds FOURTH comet touchdown for Philae lander
    Lander grazed comet between first and second bounces

    The European Space Agency has conducted deeper analysis of just what happened to the Philae lander during its descent to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and now believes the craft bounced off the wandering rock three times, not twice as was previously thought to the be case.

    The new analysis re-tells the now-familiar story of Philae’s descent: all went well for the first seven hours, during which time the probe rotated about once every five minutes. Next came first the bounce, which increased the rate of spin to one rotation every thirteen seconds.

    If Philae did indeed graze 67/P, it’s even more remarkable that all its instruments survived its journey to the comet, even if the lander came to rest in a spot where it cannot see the sun often enough to keep operating.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta Results: Comets “Did Not Bring Water To Earth”

    “Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets. Results from Europe’s Rosetta mission”

    Rosetta results: Comets ‘did not bring water to Earth’

    Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets.

    Results from Europe’s Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet.

    The results are published in the journal Science.

    The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out.

    Water on Earth has a distinctive signature. While the vast majority of liquid on our planet is made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, very occasionally a hydrogen atom will be replaced with a deuterium atom.

    On Earth, for every 10,000 water molecules, three deuterium atoms can be found. This water has the same physical properties as H2O, but it is heavier in mass.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SPACE the FINAL FRONTIER: These are the images of COMET PROBE ROSETTA
    Craft reveals ‘goosebumps’, dunes and other featur

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has released details of the first bushel of studies derived from the Rosetta spacecraft’s visit to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    The journal Science has devoted a special issue to seven studies of the comet

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Boffins say comets are like fried ice-cream
    Because they melt in the sun and have crunchy organics on the outside. No, really

    Boffins working for Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have created comet-like stuff in a cryostat.

    Along the way, they’ve decided that your average comet is kind of like fried ice-cream: squishy on the inside, crusty on the outside, with organic chemicals dusted on top.

    Both the ESA’s Rosetta and NASA’s Deep Impact comet missions had found evidence of the soft, porous interiors of comets, and the Philae lander discovered the hard surface the hard way, with a triple-bounce that surprised mission scientists and degraded some of its activities

    The fluffy interior, the researchers explain, are a form of ice not observed under normal Earth conditions. The “amorphous” porous ice forms when water vapour is flash-frozen at around 30 Kelvin, and never forms crystals.

    The disorderly states of amorphous ice mean it’s somewhat like fairy floss (cotton candy) – light, fluffy, and with pockets of space throughout.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Nitrogen Discovery On Comet

    An anonymous reader sends word that the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has detected traces of molecular nitrogen on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Nitrogen Discovery on Comet
    by Elizabeth Howell, Contributor | March 20, 2015 12:18pm ET

    A peculiar mix of molecular nitrogen on the comet target of Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft may offer clues to the conditions that gave birth to the entire solar system.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Comet 67P found to be COMPLETELY UNATTRACTIVE
    Philae lander to come alive soon, says ESA, but has no magnetic field to contend with

    The Philae Lander should soon see enough sun to resume operations on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenkoduring April or May, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) lander manager Stephan Ulamec told the European Geosciences Union General Assembly earlier this week.

    Philae hitched a ride to 67P aboard the Rosetta probe and descended to the comet last year, but landed in a crack where its solar panels could not see the Sun. Once its batteries reached a certain level it therefore hibernated. The ESA tried to wake the lander last month, without success, but Ulamec feels 67P is now receiving enough sunlight that the craft’s innards should warm beyond -45C, the point at which it starts to do things other than self-preservation. With a little extra sunlight, it’s expected the lander may even gather enough energy to fire up its radios and start doing science.

    If that happens, one of the things it won’t need to look for is a magnetic core, because the lander’s bounces across the comet’s surface have shown it doesn’t have one.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta Spacecraft Catches Comet Eruption

    On March 12, the Rosetta spacecraft was imaging Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from a distance of 75 kilometers (46 miles) and by pure chance it spotted an eruption of dusty material from the shaded nucleus.

    Rosetta Watches Comet Erupt With a Dusty Surprise

    On March 12, the Rosetta spacecraft was imaging Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from a distance of 75 kilometers (46 miles) and by pure chance it spotted an eruption of dusty material from the shaded nucleus.

    Long-duration spacecraft are essential if we are to fully understand the evolution of a comet as it gradually heats up during its approach to the sun. And it just so happens that Rosetta is always in orbit around 67P’s nucleus, ready to spot any transient event that could erupt at any time on the surface.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    OSIRIS catches activity in the act

    Rosetta’s scientific imaging system OSIRIS has witnessed a new jet of dust emerging from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image was presented during the European Geosciences Union General Assembly, EGU, in Vienna last week.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ESA shortlists three medium-sized missions for 2025 launch
    The Little Mermaid scrying exoplanet atmospheres or Mjölnir in magnetic fields?

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has whittled down the list of projects it is considering for deployment in the year 2025 and is now considering three missions for liftoff in that year.

    The three projects are:

    Ariel, aka Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, which would analyse the atmospheres of around 500 planets orbiting close to nearby stars, to determine their chemical composition and physical conditions.” This one’s all about learning more about how planets form and work.
    Thor, the Turbulence Heating ObserveR, would study “the interaction of the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field” and “address a fundamental problem in space plasma physics concerned with the heating of plasma and the subsequent dissipation of energy.”
    Xipe, the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer, could check out “X-ray emissions from high-energy sources such as supernovas, galaxy jets, black holes and neutron stars, to discover more about the behaviour of matter under extreme conditions.”

    All three missions are “M-Class”, the agency’s designation for medium-sized missions. There’s also an “S” and “L” class and readers will not be surprised to learn they stand for “small” and “large” respectively.

    The S-M-L classification was introduced long after the ESA’s decision to do things like the Rosetta comet-spotter

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ALIEN SLIME SHOCKER: Approaching comet probably NOT inhabited, say boffins
    Gunge-oid blobomination invasion not on cards

    The Rosetta probe’s Earth-bound shepherds have sternly stated that suggestions of alien life within comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko – around which the probe is in orbit – are “pure speculation”.

    Talking at an astroboffinry conference in Llandudno on Monday, Dr Max Wallace and Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe suggested that the approaching 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko could contain alien “organisms”, perhaps of a sort similar to those found in slime, which might become “active” as the comet nears the Sun and warms up.

    A statement from the Royal Astronomical Society questioned whether micro-organisms might be responsible for the curious sinkholes which are observable on the surface of 67P.

    “No scientist active in any of the Rosetta instrument science teams assumes the presence of living micro-organisms beneath the cometary surface crust,” Uwe Meierhenrich of Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France, told the Graun.

    “I think it is highly unlikely,”

    “It’s pure speculation,” he said: “I think it is unlikely.”

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta comet boffins: We can explain why there’s a rubber ducky IN SPAAACE
    Euro probe studies two rocks for the price of one

    Findings from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe solved the riddle of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s unusual shape. They have proof that the comet is in fact two planetary bodies joined at the hip.

    ESA’s Rosetta probe took ten years to reach its target last July and, when it did, the science team had a bit of a shock. Normally comets are roughly circular, but this example looked more like a rubber duck, with a large body and smaller head supported by a thin neck. It’s approximately 4 kilometers across, measured the long way.

    Between 6 August 2014 and 17 March 2015 Rosetta took a series of high-resolution pictures of the geology of 67P and the results are now in. The comet is definitely two objects joined together, and the proof is in how the surface of the comet is layered.

    “It is clear from the images that both lobes have an outer envelope of material organized in distinct layers, and we think these extend for several hundred meters below the surface,” said Matteo Massironi, from the University of Padova, Italy.

    “You can imagine the layering a bit like an onion, except in this case we are considering two separate onions of differing size that have grown independently before fusing together.”

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rosetta probe delivers jaw-to-the-floor find: molecular oxygen
    Solar system suddenly looks kinder, gentler, because Oxygen doesn’t last long alone

    Rosetta has both delighted and upset astro-boffins, sending back data that indicates the discovery of molecular oxygen on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    The scientists are excited because the O2, detected in the thin cloud of stuff surrounding the comet, is going to give them a pile of new science; and upset, because it’s not really supposed to be there. After billions of years, most of the molecular oxygen was expected to have reacted with hydrogen to form water.

    The fact that the oxygen has survived suggests the comet – and probably other bodies in the solar system – must have formed so gently that it never got hot enough to spark oxygen reactions.

    Oxygen is plentiful – it’s the third most abundant element in the universe – but it’s also highly reactive, and usually turns up bound to other atoms and molecules (or with itself, as O3, ozone).


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