ESA Rosetta Mission Update: Philae on the Comet

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Following on from the first article on the ESA Rosetta/Philae mission, there have been several significant developments within the last 48 hours, which in turn have impacted on the wider parameters of the Rosetta Mission.

Following the initial touchdown of the Philae lander and the failure of the harpoons, it appears that the lander went on to bounce two times, before settling in its current location. These touchdowns took place at 15:34, 17:25 and 17:32 GMT, and ESA scientists are currently trying to use scientific data recovered (along with images from Rosetta itself) in order to figure out exactly where Philae is (estimations suggest that it is around 1km from the planned landing site).

While this is not the planned landing site, data links between Philae and Rosetta are functional, and both science data and photos are being received here on Earth. This new landing site is far from ideal, however, as data received from Philae suggests that it is currently sitting in the shadow of a cliff. Only one solar panel is actually receiving any power at the moment, and even then it is only for 1.5 hours in every 24. The primary battery on Philae is expected to run out in the next 24 hours, which the ESA hope will be long enough to run the current set of scientific tests (in particular the drilling being undertaken by the MUPUS module) and potentially move the Philae lander to a better position.

Information has been limited to a couple of press releases per day as a result of the practical issues surrounding communication between Philae and Rosetta, but we will continue to provide summaries alongside the larger developments. Until then, keep an eye on the Rosetta and Philae Twitter feeds, along with the ESA Rosetta blog.

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