Friday, November 14, 2014

Philae may not have energy to send results to Earth, says ESA

Europe's robot lab Philae may not have enough power to send to Earth the results of today's drill into the surface of its host comet, mission scientists have said.

"We are not sure there is enough energy so that we can transmit" the data, lander manager Stephan Ulamec said at a press conference webcast from European Space Agency (ESA) ground control in Germany.
Scientists are to decide whether to try a risky drilling procedure to enable an exploration probe to examine samples from the surface of a comet before its batteries run out.

The probe on Wednesday floated away from its planned landing site after harpoons designed to hold it down on the comet failed to deploy.
It is now resting precariously on two out of three legs in the shadow of a cliff on the comet.
  • The lack of light means the probe, dubbed Philae, would not draw sufficient energy to operate on its solar panels as hoped once its batteries run out.
  • The ESA team are also uncertain of its exact position, making it difficult to "hop" the probe into a better position using its landing gear.
The probe was supposed to drill into the surface of the celestial body after landing, but its unstable position and the comet's weak gravitational pull means there is a risk it could bounce off if the drill is deployed.
Despite the landing setbacks, the mission has achieved many breakthroughs, including the first time a spacecraft has followed a comet rather than just whizzing past and the first time a probe has landed on a comet.
Comets are of interest to scientists because they are remnants from the formation of our solar system, over 4.6 billion years ago.
These masses of ice and rock have preserved ancient organic molecules like a time capsule and may provide insight into how planets and life evolved.
Even if Philae is unable to drill into the surface to analyse samples, the Rosetta spacecraft will follow the comet until at least the end of 2015, even as it passes closest to the sun on its orbit.



  1. ESA research module Philae running out of electric power ...

    European Space Agency ESA research module Philae is left to work only for a few hours on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet surface, chief of Rosetta research project at the French Center of Space Studies Philippe Gaudon said on Friday.

    “The battery charge will permit research module Philae to operate only for a few hours. In the future energy from solar batteries should be generated to replace it, but the research module is in shadow,” Gaudon said.

    Most apparently the accumulator life designed for 60 hours of module operation will end in about 12 hours, experts said, noting that the spacecraft will cease to operate overnight to Saturday. But in the last hours of operation it acts as a true Earth patriot and lives according to the heroic principle, “I die, but do not surrender.”...............

  2. Contact with Philae lost, says European Space Agency ...

    The research lander Philae has stopped sending signals from the surface of the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, the European Space Agency said.

    No signal. Contact with Philae lost. All first communication session research data were transmitted successfully, ESA Mission Control said.

  3. Nach der spektakulären Landung auf dem Kometen „Tschuri“ hat das Mini-Labor „Philae“ am frühen Samstagmorgen mit leeren Batterien seine Arbeit eingestellt. „Signalverlust, keine weitere Kommunikation mehr“, teilte die Weltraumagentur Esa in einer Twitter-Botschaft mit...

    Zwei Tage nach der Landung auf dem Kometen, der eigentlich „67P/Tschurjumow-Gerassimenko“ heißt, habe der Lander seine Instrumente abgeschaltet. Alle bis dahin gesammelten wissenschaftlichen Daten seien erfolgreich heruntergeladen worden.

    Die Batterie des Labors war auf zweieinhalb Tage ausgelegt. Da es auf dem Kometen „Tschuri“ nach einer holprigen Landung an einer schattigen Seite aufgekommen war, war ein Nachladen vorerst nicht möglich. Experten hatten es schon am Mittwoch nach dem Aufsetzen von „Philae“ als Erfolg bezeichnet, wenn das Gerät etwa 60 Stunden durchhalten könne.
    Vielleicht erst in zwei Monaten wieder Kontakt

    Den Kontrolleuren beim Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Köln gelang es am späten Freitagabend noch einmal, mit dem Lander zu kommunizieren. „Das sind die letzten Zuckungen von „Philae““, prognostizierte Projektleiter Stephan Ulamec vom DLR zuvor in Darmstadt...............

  4. Philae trouve des molécules organiques sur la comète...

    L'Agence spatiale européenne a publié des images montrant le mouvement de « galop » du module spatial Philae sur la surface de la comète 67P/Tchourioumov-Guérassimenko lors de son atterrissage du 12 novembre.

    En raison de l'atterrissage peu réussi, l'appareil s’est retrouvé dans une zone d'ombre et ses panneaux solaires ont affaibli. La Terre a reçu le dernier signal à partir du module le 15 novembre. Philae a transmis les données sur des échantillons prélevés à partir de la surface de la comète, après quoi il et est tombé en mode de veille. La découverte des molécules organiques sur cette comète qui contiennent des atomes de carbone signifie qu’elles pourraient participer à l’émergence de la vie............

  5. Scientists controlling the Rosetta spacecraft have taken drastic action and moved it into an orbit 125km above the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after dust clouds caused a complete reset of its navigation instruments....

    "It immediately forced us to change our trajectory, our orbital plan," Andrea Accomazzo, the Flight Director of the Rosetta Mission at the European Space Agency (ESA) told Al Jazeera.

    The mission had been expecting a gradual increase in the amount of dust and gas coming from the comet as it warmed up on its journey towards the sun at a speed of 18km per second.

    The sudden eruption overwhelmed a camera which tracks the stars and allows the craft to navigate.

    "This unit is basically fooled by the dust particles that are flying around the comet. It thinks these are stars, so it doesn't know which altitude Rosetta is orientated," said Accomazzo.

    The next three months are critical for the $1.8bn scientific mission because during this time the comet will reach its closest point to the sun and is likely to be the most active...........


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