Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Rosetta comet landing has made history (Space probe, Philae, reaches comet’s surface first time in history)

After 10 years of hard work and one nerve-wracking night, the Rosetta mission has made history by landing on the surface of a comet.

The lander Philae was confirmed to touch down on the surface of the comet more than 300 million miles away at 11:05 a.m. Eastern. Now, scientists expect it to send a panoramic image home and begin analyzing the comet for scientists back on Earth.

Philae is already transmitting scientific data back home, but we're still waiting to see whether the probe is in a stable position. Until we know it's anchored tight, it could roll onto its back and never get back up.

Tensions were high in the European Space Agency's German mission control center, especially as the landing window approached. Because the comet that Philae landed on is so far from Earth, there's a communications delay of 28 minutes. So as the minutes ticked by, the Rosetta team knew that Philae had already either landed or failed — and there was nothing they could do but wait for the data to reach them. Those following the video online were nearly as desperate for news, and Twitter became a sounding chamber of anticipation and excitement.

But a few minutes after 11 a.m., the stern, cautious expressions of the mission control team melted into smiles. And just like that, the world swiveled from anxiety to elation: Philae was on the surface of the comet and ready to do some science.
For the first time in the history of space exploration a research probe has reached the surface of a comet.
The robotic lander Philae of the European Space Agency separated from the spacecraft Rosetta and landed on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 500 million kilometers away from the Earth.
Philae separated from the Rosetta spacecraft at 11:35 Moscow time.

 The journey from Rosetta to the comet’s surface lasted about seven hours.

Rosetta and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which was discovered in 1969 by Soviet astronomers Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko, now lie about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, rushing towards the inner Solar System at nearly 55,000 kilometers per hour, the ESA said.
Rosetta will follow the comet for more than a year to provide a detailed scientific study of the Solar System body.


  1. La sonda “Philae” atterra con successo sulla cometa Churyumov-Gerasimenko ...

    Il modulo "Philae" della navicella "Rosetta" dell'Agenzia Spaziale Europea (ESA) ha effettuato oggi il primo atterraggio della storia sulla superficie del nucleo della cometa Churyumov-Gerasimenko, dal diametro di 3 chilometri.

    L'evento è stato mostrato in diretta presso la sede dell'ESA.

    Tramite il modulo, gli astrofisici hanno in programma di studiare la composizione chimica del nucleo della cometa.

    La navicella "Rosetta" ha impiegato più di un decennio per avvicinarsi alla cometa. Durante questo periodo, la sonda ha percorso più di 6,4 miliardi di chilometri. Il modulo "Philae" lavorerà 4/6 mesi sulla superficie della cometa.
    Per saperne di più:

  2. Πρόβλημα με τα «πόδια» του ρομπότ της «Ροζέτα» ...

    Το Philae δεν έχει ακόμα«γαντζωθεί» στον κομήτη 67Ρ/Τσουριούμοφ/Γκερασιμένκο - Οι επιστήμονες προσπαθούν να επιλύσουν το πρόβλημα
    Μετά τις κραυγές χαράς και τους εναγκαλισμούς ανάμεσα στους επιστήμονες που είχαν συγκεντρωθεί στο Κέντρο Ελέγχου της ESA στο Ντάρμσταντ της Γερμανίας, μόλις το ρομπότ Philae της αποστολής Rosetta προσεδαφίστηκε στον κομήτη 67Ρ/Τσουριούμοφ/Γκερασιμένκο, ακολούθησε η αγωνία.

    Σύμφωνα με τους ειδικούς, τα άγκιστρα του ρομπότ δεν κατάφεραν να απελευθερωθούν, με αποτέλεσμα να μην έχει επιτευχθεί ακόμα η αγκίστρωση στο έδαφος του κομήτη.

    Επικρατεί ο φόβος ότι το αδύναμο βαρυτικό πεδίο δε θα επιτρέψει στο όχημα να παραμείνει στο έδαφος, με αποτέλεσμα οι επιστήμονες του Κέντρο Ελέγχου της ESA να προσπαθούν να επιλύσουν το πρόβλημα, ώστε να διασφαλιστεί ότι το ρομπότ μπορεί να ξεκινήσει να στέλνει τα πρώτα στοιχεία στη Γη.

    1. A European robot probe has made the first, historic landing on a comet, but its status remains uncertain after harpoons failed to anchor it to the surface...

      Officials said the craft may have lifted off the comet after touchdown before returning to the surface.

      Mission scientist Stephan Ulamec said: "Maybe we didn't just land once, we landed twice."

      He said it would take further analysis to understand what has happened to it..............

    2. Cosmic first as European spacecraft lands on comet, but foothold uncertain ...

      Hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, a European spacecraft made history Wednesday by successfully landing on the icy, dusty surface of a speeding comet — an audacious first designed to answer big questions about the universe.

      The landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko required immense precision, as even the slightest error could have thrown the spacecraft far off course and imperiled the mission. In the end, the touchdown of the Philae lander appeared to be almost perfectly on target, said Paolo Ferri, head of mission operations for the European Space Agency.

      “Everyone cried,” he told reporters at mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

      Scientists at the agency first had to sweat through a tense seven-hour countdown that began when Philae dropped from the agency’s Rosetta space probe as both it and the comet hurtled through space at 41,000 mph (66,000 kph).

      During the lander’s descent, scientists were powerless to do anything but watch, because its vast distance from Earth — 500 million km (311 million miles) — made it impossible to send instructions in real time.

      Finally, at 1603 GMT (11:03 a.m. EST), the agency received a signal that the washing machine-sized lander had touched down on the comet’s icy surface.

      While further checks were needed to ascertain the state of the 220-pound (100-kg) lander, the fact that it was resting on the surface of the comet was already a huge success, the highlight of Rosetta’s decade-long mission to study comets and learn more about the origins of these celestial bodies..........AP..............

    3. Philae ne tient pas solidement sur le noyau de la comète (experts) ...

      Le module scientifique Philae, qui vient de réaliser un atterrissage sur la surface de la comète de Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ne tient pas de manière stable. Les « harpons », grâce auxquels l’appareil devrait se fixer sur sa surface, n’ont pas fonctionné de manière correcte, rapporte RIA Novosti.

      Les experts sont en train de vérifier s’il est possible de fixer à nouveau le module à la surface de la planète et pourquoi le système n’a pas fonctionné.........Lire la suite:

    4. Comet probe Philae now stable - scientists ...

      The robot probe Philae that made a historic comet landing is now stable after initially failing to attach to the surface, and is sending pictures.

      European Space Agency scientists say they are now trying to find out where the probe is on the comet.

      Engineers say it may have bounced hundreds of metres back off the surface after first touching down..............

    5. Scientists await data after Philae’s historic, but imperfect comet landing ...

      European scientists were hoping for a stream of data Thursday after a robot lab made the first-ever landing on a comet – a key step in a marathon mission to probe the mysteries of space – although Philae failed to anchor to its target.

      Operation chiefs in Darmstadt, Germany, on Wednesday said the lander Philae failed to anchor to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on landing, but still managed to send back scientific information.

      The 100-kilogramme (220-pound) explorer may have plopped down in a soft, sand-like material or may be lightly touching the surface, they speculated.

      More would be known on Thursday when Philae makes scheduled contact with its mothership, Rosetta, landing manager Stephan Ulamec said.

      "Hopefully, we are sitting there on the surface at a position different to the original landing and can continue our science," Ulamec said...........

    6. Une ombre sur la comète empêche le module Philae de recharger ses panneaux solaires ...

      Le module scientifique européen Philae, qui a réalisé ce mercredi, pour la première fois dans l’histoire de l’exploration scientifique, un atterrissage sur la surface du noyau de la comète Churyumov-Gerasimenko, se trouve actuellement dans l’ombre d’une pente, ce qui empêche le rechargement de ses panneaux solaires, a indiqué le développeur de Philae Jean-Pierre Bibring.

      Actuellement Philae se trouve dans la zone du rayonnement solaire pendant seulement 90 minutes, alors que 6 à 7 heures sont nécessaires pour le bon fonctionnent des panneaux solaires du module.
      Lire la suite:

    7. Scientists working on Philae comet lander say it is time to take more risks with the probe, amid fears its battery might die in hours....

      There is an expectation that the robot may be entering its last day of useable power on the ice object 67P.

      The European Space Agency (ESA) is due to upload commands to tell Philae to deploy its drill.

      The hope is that it can pull up some samples to analyse in the robot's onboard laboratories.

      It is a high risk activity, however, because the torque could destabilise the delicately placed lander.
      Last contact

      Philae is sitting in the shadow of a cliff, and will not get enough sunlight to work beyond Saturday.

      Friday night's radio contact with the orbiting Rosetta satellite will be the last that engineers have a reasonable confidence will work.

      The team is still not sure where on the surface the probe came to rest after bouncing upon landing on Wednesday.

      Scientists have been examining radio transmissions between the orbiter and the lander to see if they can triangulate a position.

      This work has now produced a "circle of uncertainty" within which Philae almost certainly lies.....................

    8. Rosetta-Mission: "Philae" hat schon fast keinen Strom mehr ...

      Das Mini-Labor hat eine erste Operation gemeistert und ein Thermometer auf dem Kometen ausgesetzt. Aber es gibt ein Problem: Die Batterien sind womöglich nicht mehr stark genug, die Daten zu senden.

      Auf dem Kometen Tschuri geht die Arbeit nun erst richtig los. Das Mini-Labor "Philae" hat zwei Tage nach seiner Landung ein Thermometer auf dem 500 Millionen Kilometer entfernten Kometen ausgesetzt. Damit hat das Labor nicht nur seine ersten beiden Nächte in der Ferne des Alls überstanden – sondern auch gleich seine erste "mechanische Operation" gemeistert, teilte die Europäische Raumfahrtbehörde (Esa) mit.

      Nach wie vor bereitet allerdings die Energieversorgung des Landers den Wissenschaftlern Sorgen. Denn das Gerät ist nicht wie geplant bei seinem Landeplatz zum Stehen gekommen, sondern noch zweimal "gehopst". Seine endgültige Position hat es nun offenbar im Schatten eines Felsens gefunden, so die Forscher. Das bedeutet aber, dass die Solarzellen des kühlschrankgroßen Labors kaum Sonnenlicht abbekommen. Deshalb können die Batterien, die die Energie für das Gerät liefern, nicht aufgeladen werden..................


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