Philae on the comet!

15 Nov

What_does_Philae_do_during_descentThere couldn’t be a better day to start the Nth version of my blog than the weekend after the awesome landing of Philae on Comet 67P.

Last Wednesday the whole European scientific and technological sector stopped for a few hours to follow the updates on the most daring space endeavour to date: the first comet landing.

After 7 hours of descent marked by various communication and data milestones, spacecraft controllers at ESOC could confirm the touchdown on the comet. Hours later it became clear that Philae performed two bounces on the comet surface before coming to a rest. Moreover it stopped in a peculiar position on the rim of a big crater and roughly at a distance of 1 km from the original landing site.

During the next two days, taking advantage of the two daily communication slots permitted by the orbit of the Rosetta spacecraft, the entire main scientific sequence was completed while relying on the lander’s batteries which finally run out yesterday night. Luckily it was also possible to use the SD2 drill developed by Politecnico di Milano, Selex ES and ASI.

All the invaluable data collected during the last hours will give us a better understanding of the comet structure and composition sheding light on the origins of the Solar System.

What a great week for space exploration and for the European scientific community.

Here you are the amazing first comet panorama with superimposed lander position.