We Land on a Comet Today! Updates on Philae’s Progress

Just released "farewell photo" taken by the Philae lander as it departed Rosetta around 2:30 a.m. (CST) today. It shows the one of the solar arrays. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Just released “farewell photo” taken by the Philae lander as it departed Rosetta around 2:30 a.m. (CST) today. It shows the one of the solar arrays. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Anticipation is intense as the Philae lander free-falls to the surface of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko this morning. The final “Go” for separation from the Rosetta spacecraft was given around 2:30 a.m.; Philae is now well on its way to Algilkia, its target landing site. Around 8:30 a.m. (CST) the lander Everything is running smoothly except for one potential problem. During checks on the lander’s health, it was discovered that the active descent system, which provides a thrust to avoid rebound at the moment of touchdown, can’t be activated.

Artist impression of Philae separating from Rosetta earlier this morning. The lander is now free-falling to the comet under the influence of its gravity. Credit: ESA

At touchdown, as Philae anchors itself to the comet with harpoons and ice screws on each of its legs, the thruster on top of the lander is supposed to push it down to counteract the force of the harpoon firing in the opposite direction. “The cold gas thruster on top of the lander does not appear to be working so —> Read More Here

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