Philae’s Incredible Comet-Landing Sequence Shows Up In Fresh Rosetta Images

Wow! New images released from the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko show the spacecraft coming in for its (first) landing on Wednesday (Nov. 12). “The mosaic comprises a series of images captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera over a 30 minute period spanning the first touchdown,” wrote the European Space Agency in a blog post today (Monday).

This is just the latest in a series of images coming from the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft showing the Philae lander coming in for its rendezvous with 67P. A major next step for the mission will be figuring out where the lander actually came for a rest, but there’s plenty of data from both Rosetta and Philae to comb through for this information, ESA said.

What’s known for sure is Philae made three touchdowns on the comet — making history as humanity’s first soft-lander on such an object — stopping in a shady area that will make recharging its solar panels difficult. The spacecraft is in hibernation as of Friday (Nov. 14) and scientists are really, really hoping it’s able to charge up for another science session soon. Rosetta, meanwhile, is hard at work above and will continue to follow the comet in 2015.

In case you missed it, below are some of the pictures over the last few days that could be used to help pinpoint the landing location.

Source: European Space Agency

A still of the Philae spacecraft bouncing off Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in an animation of Rosetta spacecraft images. The image was taken Nov. 12, 2014, at 10:35 a.m. EDT (3:35 p.m. UTC). Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM; pre-processed by Mikel Canania
Our last panorama from Philae? This image was taken with the CIVA camera; at center Philae has been added to show its orientation on the surface. Credit: ESA
The animated image below provides strong evidence that Philae touched down for the first time almost precisely where intended. The animation comprises images recorded by Rosetta’s navigation camera as the orbiter flew over the (intended) Philae landing site on November 12th. The dark area is probably dust raised by the craft on touchdown. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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