Scientists of European persuasion have made an important change of plans for the Philae lander , a detached component of the Rosetta spacecraft with a spotty service record. The Europeans are now hopeful of retrieving new imagery and data on drill samples as soon as communications are restored.
WHY DOES PHILAE PERFORM BADLY?
This may be a misrepresentation of the facts; Philae was impeccably designed, and is fully capable of performing its duties, but upon beginning its final descent last November, the lander had a few issues, bounced on the surface several times, and came to rest in a small valley. Since the lander is solar powered, the absence of sunlight precludes its operating at full capacity, causing it to go into hibernation mode periodically.
But in June, the tenacious lander reawoke, much to scientists at the European Space Agency’s surprise, and caused the ESA to rush plans for Philae to perform as many experiments as possible before they risked the more dangerous drilling experiment.
However, as mentioned above, because of Philae’s position, periodic black outs are to be expected. “The problem is not power, but communications,” Aurelie Moussi from space agency CNES said in a webcast on Thursday. “We have to find something to do in a shorter duration.”
PHILAE EXPECTED TO UNVEIL MYSTERIES OF LIFE
Scientists are hopeful that new samples from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s surface will yield more insight into the fundamentals of planet formation, and how such a frigid and hostile environment can be host to the complex organic compounds capable of seeding life.
The Rosetta spacecraft has spent the past two weeks studying a part of the comet inaccessible to Philae, but as of August 11th the mother probe has returned to its position above Philae, and is awaiting its signal.
PHILAE IS DAMAGED
So far, no more contact between the two machines has been documented, but Barbara Cozzoni, Philae operations engineer laments that this may be because one of the lander’s transmitters is broken, along with two receivers that refuse to function properly.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
Since the comet passed through its perihelion phase at 185 million kilometers (roughly 115 million miles) from the sun, activity on the comet has picked up drastically. Just as the hottest day of the year occurs after the summer solstice, so too will comet 67P’s most active day follow its perihelion. As of now, the comet is ejecting nearly 1,000 kg of dust and a volume of water sufficient to fill two bathtubs per second. Comparatively, upon Rosetta’s original rendezvous, comet 67P was losing only two small glasses of water per second.
In addition to this increased loss of matter and H20, magnificently powerful gas jets were also observed shooting from the comet’s surface. But this spectacle is sideshow to what Philae may reveal to us, soon.
DON’T WANT YOUR PHONE TO BOUNCE LIKE PHILAE? TRY URBAN ARMOR GEAR.