Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Cool image time! The Philae science team yesterday published in Science a set of papers describing their results from the lander’s approach and bouncing landing on Comet 67P/C-G.
Data were obtained during the lander’s seven-hour descent to its first touchdown at the Agilkia landing site, which then triggered the start of a sequence of predefined experiments. But shortly after touchdown, it became apparent that Philae had rebounded and so a number of measurements were carried out as the lander took flight for an additional two hours some 100 m above the comet, before finally landing at Abydos.
Some 80% of the first science sequence was completed in the 64 hours following separation before Philae fell into hibernation, with the unexpected bonus that data were ultimately collected at more than one location, allowing comparisons between the touchdown sites.
The images from lander so far released show the approach to the first site, with one boulder getting larger and larger as it descends, followed by images at the final landing site, showing a fractured, uneven, and very rough surface with the lander apparently sitting sideways with one foot off the ground.
An animation of the first touchdown, created by these images, can be viewed here.
Update: A good summary of the results can be read here.