Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Philae's landing spot revealed / Getting ready for a short break

Remember Philae? 

You might recall the Challenge we had in April  2014 about  Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Philae and Rosetta.  

Back then we wondered about how hard the comet was, and how difficult it would be to land Philae, the descent-lander on the surface.  

We found out that it was harder than we thought.  ESA's (European Space Agency) Philae lander touched down Nov. 12, 2014 and then bounced a couple of times before landing and attaching itself to the comet's surface.  But its final location was uncertain.  

P/C Space.com infographic by Karl Tate

But it finally landed and stuck... but in a crevice without much light.  It ran on batteries for about 60 hours, sending back data (via the mothership Rosetta, orbiting above) before going into sleep mode. 

Seven months later, it woke up again (having apparently gotten some sunlight on it's photocells) and sent back more data.  It wasn't quite as much as we'd hoped, but the thing actually worked.  (Except for the harpoons... )  

Still, without visual verification (and no handy EXIF metadata giving us the lat/long on the comet), nobody knew quite where Philae sat on the surface. 

On September 4, Rosetta managed to get a good image of Philae... and yes, it's wedged in a shadowy crack on the surface. 

Click to see at full-res. P/C ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team

Like Philae... 

I'm also going to be taking a short break--an actual vacation that will be (mostly) internet and Wifi-free.  My goal for the next two weeks is to NOT spend time searching for much of anything other than clear blue water and sandy beaches.  

Note: I'll post a SearchResearch Challenge tomorrow, but you'll have 2.5 weeks to work on it before I return on Oct 3rd.  Go wild in your research!  (And if you don't see your post appearing in the comment thread, don't panic.  I have to approve each one by hand to eliminate the spammy posts. A delay just means I haven't been connected in a day or two, and that my vacation is being successful.)  

In full Philae mode, I'm taking a bit of time off, and will be looking for sunshine to recharge my batteries.  

Searching (for azure seas) on! 


  1. Hello Dr. Russell. Thanks for this post. I wish for you a successful vacation. I am sure those offline days will be amazing.

  2. Dan have a great vacation. Anne and I hope to get back into full search research mode this year (this being the start of the year for us as teachers). Looking forward to working on searches again!

  3. a vaca from the vaca… I'll try to resist the conspiracy opportunity… hope the 2-5-25 Or 6 To 4 is beneficial & restorative… will miss the search exercises. For the comet travelers, it all comes
    to an end (??) at the end of this month… spam or no spam, splat or no splat.
    it's kinda azure… maybe you're headed for Greece…
    Rosetta is set to complete its mission in a controlled descent to the surface of its comet on 30 September.
    beach tunes - Yma Sumac - Live in Moscow
    25 Or 6 To 4

    1. It's actually one vacation broken up into 2 segments!

      You're right -- I should have mentioned that Rosetta will be doing a "controlled descent" into the comet. Given how high Philae bounced, we'll see just how "controlled" it is.

    2. the weight of a paperclip for Philae with the comet's gravity… Rosie may have 'more' weight & angle… but the bounce may alter in unexpected ways…
      the GooglePlex may have more gravity… or gelatinous gravy.
      looking back
      looking forward
      looking revised
      cosmic hele i loko o ka meaʻole — hulina ma

  4. April 2014 wow time flies. I would love to see tracking of your dives same as running.That would be cool. Possible?

    1. Good question. I could certainly make a map of the places I've dived, but I don't know of any GPS system that works underwater. (The radio waves from the satellites get blocked by the sea... so all you get is the entry/exit points.) You rarely swim very far underwater anyway, although sometimes (on "drift dives") you get carried by the current a far distance. On one memorable dive in Cozumel, I think we went at least 1 mile underwater. (That current was FAST!)

    2. Looks like it's coming http://scubaworld.com/scubanews/gps-based-underwater-navigation-technology-for-divers