back to article There it is! Philae comet lander found in existing Rosetta PICS

European Space Agency (ESA) boffins reckon they may have located the final touchdown site for their comet-intercepting Philae lander, after its bouncy landing caused them to lose track of it temporarily. Philae's bouncing touchdown seen in Rosetta NAVCAM pics Philae's touchdown site seen by Rosetta's navigation camera. The …

  1. johnnymotel

    ???

    where is the cliff?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: ???

      The article states it appears the picture caught the little guy in mid-bounce. I'm guessing the cliff is further to the right.

    2. Psyx
      Happy

      Re: ???

      "where is the cliff?"

      Never fear! His calender is on sale in time for Christmas!

      http://www.cliffrichard.org/shopping/calendar.cfm

      1. Martin Budden
        Thumb Down

        Re: ???

        I would down-vote the article's title if I could. Yes I know El Reg has a habit of being cheekily misleading in article headings (a practise which I wholeheartedly support) but this one is just plain inaccurate.

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Alien

    Wait!

    Some of the other white dots move too - evidence of aliens?!?!?!?

    1. Measurer

      Re: Wait!

      If Cliff is up there, obviously the Shadows!

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    lee of a rock formation

    More like a large heap of snowy slush and assorted crud.

    1. Captain DaFt

      http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30083969

      More info and pics there.

      It seems the bounce problem was caused by the "large heap of snowy slush' being as hard as stone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Slush

      Sounds like Cliff - R

  4. JassMan Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The pics dont show they found it at all

    It would have been nice to to have some sort of a scale on the photo, but given that the pics are only 5 mins apart and show that philae is climbing and has moved at least 20-30 times its diameter mean that it must have been 500-1000 times its diameter further away when it hit the second time and moved again before its final landing place many times the width of the photo off to the right.

    I guess at least they now know where to have a proper look.

    1. Martin Budden

      Re: The pics dont show they found it at all

      It certainly gives a strong clue as to where the second touchdown occurred... but then it bounced again, possibly going off at a different angle, so the final resting place is still tricky to find.

  5. Wombling_Free

    Next time, Gadget, next time!

    If civilization doesn't collapse before we get a next time, can I make the following suggestions as a non-rocket scientist, but a keen observer of history:

    1. Send two craft. It worked for Voyager, Pioneer, Viking, Mars Rovers etc. If one fails, you've got a second attempt. It's probably not even twice the price!

    2. Redundancy. Did no-one think the comet might have the density of merange, and that pressure-sensitive feet might not work? Two independent thrusters - one a backup? (see above) Maybe a laser rangefinder for landing?

    Good job though, at least we go something back. If the EU could maybe trade in a couple of Eurofighters the ESA could send another 4 probes or so...

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Next time, Gadget, next time!

      The challenge is that these probes are always tightly constrained by mass. Putting in redundant systems means you can only have half as many systems/experiment packages.

    2. Psyx
      Boffin

      Re: Next time, Gadget, next time!

      "1. Send two craft. It worked for Voyager, Pioneer, Viking, Mars Rovers etc. If one fails, you've got a second attempt. It's probably not even twice the price!"

      You appear to be under the impression that the landing was a failure. Why? It didn't go as planned, but the team got all the data that they wanted. It succeeded. It did what it was supposed to do. we won! Celebrate!

      We've been spoiled by the successes beyond specification of our recent robot invasions and the media is always much more keen to focus on failure than success. As a result, people are getting the impression that the mission 'should have' vastly exceeded all perimeters. That would have been nice, but this time we'll just have to settle for it doing the job it was supposed to, even if it didn't perform it HOW it was supposed to.

      Anyway, sending two vehicles to do the same job risks getting the same results twice, which wastes several billion dollars of very precious budget. It's a much better idea to split the money and do two things. That way you hopefully get two sets of results about two different things and expand mankind's knowledge twice as much.

      "2. Redundancy. Did no-one think the comet might have the density of merange, and that pressure-sensitive feet might not work? Two independent thrusters - one a backup? (see above) Maybe a laser rangefinder for landing?"

      I imagine that the PhD-toting literal rocket scientists will have done a better design job than you or I, and will have considered many factors that we are not aware of.

      Bear in mind that rocket payload is a very delicate balancing act, and the vast additional about of fuel needed in the stack for every extra kg of payload. As demonstrated by one of the better named equations in engineering:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsiolkovsky_rocket_equation

      You can't just add spare things because they *might* be used. Especially given that the lander was not a critical part of the mission. I suspect any available mass for redundant systems was front-loaded and used on components that got us to the comet in the first place, rather than on proverbial cake-icing.

      1. deshepherd

        Re: Next time, Gadget, next time!

        Landing a failure? As you say the scientist seem to have got what they wanted (seems that it was planned that they would have enough time on battery power to do the important science stuff) ... and if it had landed better and got solar power to charge the batteries we doubtless end up with the opportunity style articles along the lines of "lander only designed to work for 60 hours still working after 3 months"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Next time, Gadget, next time!

      > can I make the following suggestions

      Oh sure, but what colour should we paint it?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_law_of_triviality

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

    To make sure it landed the right way up and had some chance of sticking, amateurs!

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

      Superglueing a cat to the bottom of it might do the trick.

      Oh, on second thoughts, that wouldn't help - it would spend even more of its time in sleep mode.

      1. stucs201

        Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

        If you really want it to stick then forget butter - try marmite.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

        >Superglueing a cat to the bottom of it might do the trick.

        >Oh, on second thoughts, that wouldn't help - it would spend even more of its time in sleep mode.

        The cat would fall asleep in a sunbeam, though, allowing the batteries to recharge.

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

        it would spend even more of its time in sleep mode.

        But only after first performing a complete circle with its claws out, so it would be well attached.

      4. Fibbles
        Joke

        Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

        If a cat is super-glued to the underside of a space probe and there is no one there to observer it then it is in both a state of aliveness and deadness. As such, cats can survive in space without any viable form of life support making them far better suited to exploration of the cosmos than man.

        1. Matt 21

          Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

          Yes, but after millennia they breed and change into almost human form..... then get to live with a hologram and what passes for a human.....

      5. ravenviz
        Coat

        Re: Should have included some buttered toast on the feet

        Super-gluing a cat to the toast with feet and butter facing outwards just means the lander would rotate just above the surface for all of time without actually landing at all!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks, you made my day

    have an upvote

  8. royston_vasey

    The lander was "in the air" after it bounced?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Oddly enough, yes.

      1. Rabbit80

        Comets have air?

        1. Gasp!

          Yes, yes they do, an air of insouciance usually.

    2. Martin Budden
      Boffin

      It's air*, Jim, but not as we know it.

      *the comet is venting gasses.

      1. cortland

        My bus driver vents gases too -- but it's not AIR.

        1. Psyx
          Pint

          "My bus driver vents gases too -- but it's not AIR."

          Technically, they would be air as soon as he vents the gases, as they're then part of Earth's atmosphere. A very unpleasant part, but air nonetheless!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A hypothetical solution

    I'm no rocket scientist but if they did manage to find the lander, how about re-positioning Rosetta's solar panel array to reflect sunlight down to the shadows in which lander resides?

    1. Bassey

      Re: A hypothetical solution

      "I'm no rocket scientist but if they did manage to find the lander, how about re-positioning Rosetta's solar panel array to reflect sunlight down to the shadows in which lander resides?"

      This was put to the panel during the google hangout on Friday lunchtime. All three of the panel laughed. One of them did then give a fuller answer which included the fact Rosetta is orbiting, not geo-stationary, you couldn't make it geo-stationary, it wouldn't reflect enough light and a few others besides.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: A hypothetical solution

      Wouldn't make any difference.

      Rosetta is very small and quite far away.

      This would be like getting someone stood at the top of the Shard to illuminate your newspaper using a spoon.

      If the spoon was painted black.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: A hypothetical solution

        "Rosetta is very small and quite far away."

        What? Something can be small and far away? Father Dougal will be very confused!

    3. lampbus

      Re: A hypothetical solution

      Hmm...Rosetta has solar arays to do what ?....absorb the light at the best wavelengths to turn it into electricity.

      So how much is going to be reflected off? not a lot.

      Then you have to steer them precisely, and the spreading 'spot' will be much larger than the lander's panels...which will be a the wrong angle most of the time.

    4. Brown M

      Re: A hypothetical solution

      Rosetta's solar panel are designed to absorb sunlight, not reflect it. Even if it is able to reflect sunlight, Rosetta is located more than 15 miles above and it is simply too small and too far away to do any reflection.

  10. leaway2

    Flat battery, has anyone called the AA?

    1. Psyx
      Pint

      Yes, but they would only tow it 20 miles, which is less useful in the cold void of space than on the M25.

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        shirley they would offer to, nay insist on, installing a replacement battery that may cost five times what even Halfords would dare to charge but does come with a slightly extended guarantee so that's ok then?

        1. Vic

          a replacement battery that may cost five times what even Halfords would dare to charge but does come with a slightly extended guarantee

          The batteries are all the same.

          I briefly worked for a parts distribution company[1]. When we had batteries to deliver, the order sheet would specify which guarantee the customer had ordered. We would then stick the guarantee sticker for that to the battery of the appropriate shape/size/capacity spec, and deliver it to the motor factor.

          Vic.

          [1] ADS, in case you were interested. They're gone now...

    2. baseh

      Leaway2, you mean AAA surely?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        He meant AA. Or RAC, Green Flag or other roadside breakdown repair and recovery service. Unless he meant AA or AAA 1.5v cells, enough of which would power the probe.

        AA is the Automobile Association in the UK, though we do have meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous too, apparently.

        To be fair, the AAA - the American Automobile Association - is just as close to Rosetta as its British equivalent... but seeing as this is a European mission...

  11. Osgard Leach

    Startling how all the smaller features change between the 2 shots. I'd assumed it was either the shadow angle changing or a pack of Clangers running for cover, but with only 5 minutes between shots the shadow theory seems weak.

    Now if we knew the scale we could estimate the top speed of a Clanger in an emergency, good science and terrific PR. What a mission this is turning out to be.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      we could estimate the top speed of a Clanger in an emergency

      Martian or Venusian?

    2. Gezza

      excellent - had me chuckling for a good 5 mins. Multiple upvotes for making my afternoon.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "we could estimate the top speed of a Clanger in an emergency, good science"

      ...and an excellent addition to the Reg units system.

  12. FlatSpot
    WTF?

    WTF

    Why have a picture from days ago when ESA have released this today;

    http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2014/11/17/osiris-spots-Philae-drifting-across-the-comet/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF

      at a tangent, see also this interesting re-rendering of images:

      http://univ.smugmug.com/Rosetta-Philae-Mission/Philae/

      nb - not quite sure of the status of those pics though...

  13. Richard Pennington 1

    First landing on a comet?

    Shouldn't ESA be claiming the credit for the second and third comet landings as well as the first?

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: First landing on a comet?

      But will ESA be receiving a grumpy letter from Aquilino Cosani for violating his patent for a space hopper?

    2. Psyx

      Re: First landing on a comet?

      A bit late there: The ESA already did that joke! [check their Twitter feed]

    3. pffut
      Black Helicopters

      Re: First landing on a comet?

      > Shouldn't ESA be claiming the credit for the second and third comet landings as well as the first?

      I don't think even airports are greedy enough to charge for multiple landings if you bounce...

      1. Vic

        Re: First landing on a comet?

        I don't think even airports are greedy enough to charge for multiple landings if you bounce...

        A buddy of mine had a particularly poor landing at Compton Abbas a few weeks back - they threatened to charge him 3 landing fees :-)

        Vic.

  14. Benchops

    I'm waiting for them to conclude that

    "Philae ended up in shadow wedged in between a cliff and a double decker bus"

  15. CADmonkey

    ...for the nth time....

    Rocketry isn't science, it's engineering.

    As Mad magazine might have put it:

    Scientists=overrated

    Engineers=underrated

    woo anyway to all concerned.

    1. Psyx

      Re: ...for the nth time....

      Building them and getting them to only explode in the direction you want them to is indeed engineering.

      But getting them to fly to where you want them to is science.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        @ Psys.

        ...Re: ...for the nth time....

        Building them and getting them to only explode in the direction you want them to is indeed engineering.

        But getting them to fly to where you want them to is science.

        Building them and getting them to fly ANYWHERE is engineering.

        Deciding where to fly them and why is science.

  16. gardener21

    er .. contrary to what it says in this article, ESA haven't yet identified the final touchdown point of Philae. The photo shows the initial landing place and captures Philae mid-bounce. They've also located the probable second bounce point, but not yet the final position. More info here:

    http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2014/11/OSIRIS_spots_Philae_drifting_across_the_comet

  17. Crysknife007

    Sleep with Philae and listen to the ambient sounds created by the comet it is resting on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA_J_3xyt8g&list=UUF6R1ZDskjCeBMomUGCtxXw

  18. P. Lee Silver badge
    Coat

    There you are!

    Searching...

    Are you still there?

    Critical Error.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: There you are!

      Critics are usually in Error

  19. The Gray Guy

    Two images taken at 15:30 and 15:35? With so many subtle pixel shifts and differences between the two posted images unrelated to the landing site, the ESA's press releases and celebrations seem premature. Were there other images in between like 15:31, 15:32, 15:33 or 15:34? Or, after 15:35? On another website, I saw lower resolution images from a different vantage point (?) taken supposedly at 15:18 and 15:43 with different results.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the lander is casting a shadow, as implied in the story, why then is it purported to be in the shadow of a cliff, which is denying the craft sun exposure? An object which is shielded from sunlight, cannot cast a shadow.

  21. kathyzjim

    Several stories have stated that one of the lander's legs is in the air. This comet has atmosphere? What is their definition of air?

    1. JudeKay (Written by Reg staff)

      Don't look at us – it was a direct quote from ESA/Philae project manager Stephan Ulemac! I suspect he was attempting to simplify for the layperson.

      In the mean time, it pleases us to troll everyone with 'IN THE AIR' headlines.

  22. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Everyone seems to be buying..

    ...into the idea that Philae has gathered the data it was supposed to gather.

    This is not true, as a glance at the Mission Aims statement will show you. Philae was meant to touch down on the surface, and then send back data AS THE COMET STARTED OUTGASSING on its way to perihelion. That would be next summer.

    The initial data set is fine, and it's a great achievement to have placed the craft on the surface of a comet. But, because they were relying on solar power, and because of the poor landing, Philae will probably not be able to fulfill its primary mission.

    Just thought I'd mention this...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019