This is excellent news. Plucky little blighter lives to fight another day!
The Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has been in contact again, the European Space Agency has confirmed – and the lander is getting more than enough sunshine on its solar panels to power itself continuously. Battery warm & solar panels getting energy. Anxious to explore, comet day & night! More about # …
Not just that - it will actually be able to perform stuff it was never intended to. In its original position it would have been fried by now. Where it is now it may even manage the close shave with the sun. Fingers crossed for the Rosetta portion to survive to relay the data.
If you can jump up 2.5cm on Earth, then you can jump off 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and not come back (you would have to climb to the 'top' and jump in the direction of your spin). If you can jump a whole 10cm on Earth, you can leave 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from any point and in any direction (you would have to bounce a few times if you pick a poor direction).
Had the probe landed in direct sunlight, as planned, the sun's rays would have cooked it by now. Because the lander is partially in the shade, it's still well within operating temperatures and should be able to send back data as the comet heats up, offering clues as to how the heating process affects its chemistry.
It's turning out that this, executed not exactly as planned, landing will give Philae an opportunity to perform more research, which also was not previously planned and which otherwise would not have been possible. Hurray for botched landing!
Yep, I covered my monitor in traditional Fighter Command cocoa when I read that. 'Botched Landing'! A wise man once said...."If you can walk away from a landing, it's a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it's an outstanding landing." As the little chap is still working after the flight it's had, Mr Yeager would almost certainly classify it's landing in the 'outstanding' bracket. El Reg : apologize to Philae.....
"If you can walk away from a landing, it's a good landing..."
Sure, that's one perfectly valid way to look at it, hence no downvote from me. On the other hand, one can equally validly look at it as "the single one good thing about that landing is that the probe is still in one piece and sheer luck has more to do with it than planning does", which justifies the original assessment just fine. In absolute terms, it's an incredible triumph. I relative terms, there's hardly anything that didn't go wrong with that landing.
Here's an attempt at answering the question:
"As the comet nears perihelion and becomes increasingly active, it is likely to start throwing off boulder-sized chunks. It might even split in two, although that is regarded as unlikely. One thing we know about comets, though, is that they tend to do the unexpected.
"Philae, about the size of a small refrigerator, could find itself blown out with some of these outgassed and entrained materials. To be lost from the comet nucleus, this would require ejection at several meters per second. But that would be at the large end of sizes, and unless the comet catastrophically disrupts, Philae is likely to stay put.
"Being denser than the cometary materials, Philae's fate might instead be to become increasingly buried beneath all of this mobilized debris, kind of like a snowmobile abandoned in a snowstorm."
Grain of salt, etc.
Which isn't unusual, I get confused a lot.
...the Earth-bound controllers haven't been able to communicate with it long enough to operate its ten instruments as yet... ...To rectify that, the Rosetta probe is going to fire up its thrusters and get closer to the comet's surface so that a firm data link can be achieved...
Rosetta hasn't been able to stay in contact for long enough to get useful communication going, so they are going to move Rosetta into a nearer orbit. But won't a nearer orbit reduce the orbital period, making each communication window shorter, making communication even less useful?
However, my competing wild guess would be that the transmitter is weak, so getting closer will greatly improve the data transfer rate. Data storage does not seem to be a problem on the lander end, though what I've read has only been indirect evidence on that topic.
Nobody in any news story seems to have questioned the packet figures:
First contact: One contact for 2 mins, sent back 300 packets
Latest contact: Two contacts for 2 minutes each, but sent back only 185 packets in total.
That suggests very poor comms. Poor angle? Interference from dust? I don't know and nobody seems to be questioning it.
I have uncovered some figures.
A packet is 256 bytes of data + another 20 header = 276 bytes
Max transmission speed is 16kbps
From a quick calc I reckon that means they can achieve roughly 870 packets in 2 minutes (though there may be some overhead establishing the connection). So we are still a long way off that.
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