Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ESA Rosetta Philae Lander may have bounced on landing

Philae may have landed not once but twice, that’s the final message from Esa this evening.

According to Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager, DLR, the lander team believe that Philae may have bounced from the surface and settled again in a slightly different place.

Engineers know that the anchoring harpoons did not fire. It is also known that the communications link to Rosetta failed intermittently in an irregular pattern shortly after the landing but always immediately re-established itself.

However, science data has been received and is currently being processed, but the promised first panorama from the surface has not been released.

Rosetta is now out of touch with Philae as the orbiter has dipped below the horizon of the comet. The link to Philae was lost a little earlier than expected but this is probably because a hill or boulder was in the way of the line of sight.

Right now, Philae should be working through its first automatic sequence of science experiments. Contact will be re-established through Rosetta later tonight, and the data downlinked.

There will also be more telemetry to assist the engineers in understanding the exact sequence of events during the landing.

We will know more tomorrow.

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