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S M T W T F S
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the downright amazing journey of a washing machine with wings through the universe to meet up with a star before it dies

2014.11.12
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rosetta selfie with a comet, 16km away
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rosetta selfie with planet mars
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Philae on the way to 67P (artist concept) - this design used on the t-shirts many of the ESA technicans wear that are visible in the life stream ;-)
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first picture sent back by Philae after separation: a portrait of it's host ship rosetta (notice the overall blackness of space? it's REAL...)
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a look back of Philae at her 10 year companion rosetta... which she'll never see again
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funny scientists: svetlana ivanovna gerasimenko photographed the comet on 11 september 1969 (while aiming for actually a different comet) - later 67P was discovered on her photograph by klim ivanovych churyumov - hence the complicated double name
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rosetta's farewell shot of Philae, while it is slowly moving away from her to the comet's surface (not visible here because it's much too dark)
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the "black spot" of the comet is filling up this picture - while the little lander is slowly approaching it, reflecting way more of the thin sunlight, 500 million km away from us
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a fading pixel of technology: rosetta took this picture of philae (the barely visible pixel in the center of the red circle) descending onto comet 67p - just to give an impression of the dimensions involved here!
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another 3km to go: the landing place of a comet, seen from the philae lander during approach
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anticipation in the control room....
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the big handshakes after philae has send telemetry data that says: "i have touchdown..." - too early to celebrate?
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waiting for the news: press conference live stream not available (overloaded?) and then postponed...
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"fluctuation in the uplink data": has the lander touched down? has it bounced of again? has it... *gulp*... maybe landed TWICE?
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"Philae says good morning": this is how media is depicting the lander on comet 67p - NOT a real picture, since real pictures first have to be released. let's hope we'll get them eventually.
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first pictures sent back from the surface of a comet - a composite of two pictures from a look around of Philae on her surroundings - this wall is no more than a couple of meters away from the lander.
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a constructed composite of all the pictures that Philae has taken to identify its surroundings... including the lander's possible position. it seems to be resting sideways against a shady wall.
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the red spot is where Philae was supposed to land and did, in fact, first touch down; the blue area is where it MIGHT be resting now, after its two bounce jumps
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red marks the spot: of Philae's first touch down on the comet's surface (confirmed by detail picture it shot itself during descent)
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really, it happens today - rosetta, after a journey of ten years through the by far NOT empty space of our solar system, has arrived at comet 67P/churyumov-gerasimenko (in short 67PCP) and will attempt one of the most complex and terrifyingly hazardous maneuvers ever been tried in space exploration: to land an even smaller box with highly sensitive instruments safely on a fast tumbling, only 4km in diameter measuring dirty chunk of ice and dust; to clamp and drill down its feet into the ground and find out, in a row of experiments, where water - and with it, life - came from on our own planet here at home in the "comfort zone" of the universe.

to do so, the robotic probe and lander will have to not only decide mostly on its own about all its actions during decent and touchdown (the signal from earth's operating center to the comet takes 28 minutes at the moment), it will also have to claw itself into the comet like a little parasite into the skin of an animal, since the object is not big enough to have any substantial gravity of its own.

on the way to its target, the satellite swung by several times near earth and our "nearest" neighbor planet mars in order to gain the acceleration and velocity necessary to reach 67PCP - all of which had to be calculated, measured and adjusted in advance.

if rosetta and its lander philae succeeds - and there is a good chance that they will! - technology and robotics will have made a huge step forward into the amazing possibilities to remotely explore the immense and mostly inaccessible realms of space around us - possibly the greatest achievement we humans beings will have to showcase in this universe for a long time; since human space travel might be just one of those dreams seemingly in the grasp of our hands, but never quite feasible and practical in the foreseeable future.

watch the event evolving life - i'll sure be online and holding my breath! :-)

all pictures screen shots from web/public domain, courtesy of ESA

25 Comments
LouiH Thank you for enlightening me to this Ito will be watching!
LouiH · 2014-11-11: 05:30
stormfish http://new.livestream.com/ESA/cometlanding - LIVE webcast
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 03:02
stormfish http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/ - news updated and overview of the mission
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 03:03
stormfish Separation will occur in space at 08:35 GMT / 09:35 CET (in 20 minutes from now)
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 03:14
stormfish earliest images which the Philae lander will take of its host rosetta after separation can be expected between 2pm-3.30pm CET this afternoon
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 03:53
stormfish separation of the lander Philae from its transport ship rosetta after 10 years of travelling together was successful :-)
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 04:08
stormfish the telemetry data confirms that there is a connection is established between philae and rosetta after their separation - another hurdle in this adventure successfully taken :-)
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 06:10
stormfish (what's so lovely to see in this whole live coverage of the event is the ESA internationality of it all: german, french, english, polish, Italian, all kinds of accents can be heard by the people involved, interviewed, contributing to the whole story. this so very different - it seems! - from the NASA coverage of their wonderful successes - which is usually very American (not that I mind), very "national". - this is what space exploration could be best at: to merge countries efforts in exploration. the national approach was sure necessary and will probably be a driving factor further on... but the REAL success is in making this a GLOBAL adventure... which is always was in the eyes of every spectator being fascinated by it on planet earth.)
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 06:18
stormfish first picture from Philae camera "SHIVA", looking back at rosetta, has arrived and confirms health of both spacecraft
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 08:30
stormfish mss. gerasimenko, one of the discovering scientists of comet "Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko", being a guest at the Philae landing center in köln, says that she likes the form for the comet she co-discovered: "it reminds me of a root".
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 09:56
stormfish the atmosphere is thick with anticipation in the control room... another 20 minutes, maybe, before Philae touches down and - hopefully! - ankers itself safely on the comet.. and I have to run into a meeting NOW and will miss the big moment :-(((
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 10:48
stormfish YESSS!! touchdown is confirmed, 17:03 CET! :-)
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 13:23
stormfish BUT!... an hour later, it is unclear, if the lander really has LANDED, or just bounced off the comet... two harpoones which should have fixed the little craft, doesn't seem to have fired... so it is questionable, if the lander has a stable position on the surface... :-(

press briefing will follow...
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 13:25
stormfish finally a press conference: obviously, the retrieved data is confusing and interpretable: it looks like the lander has touched down but didn't get anchored on the surface, due to misfiring of the harpoons - but due to "fluctuation in the uplink data" there are hints that it might have bounced of... and might have landed AGAIN...

data still seems to be coming in, which means the probe is functional, not broken. now the question is only - is it fixed on the comet and can it operate its scientific instruments? - more news only by tomorrow, after data will be analyzed further.
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 14:23
stormfish SCIENCE! you gotta hate it or love it... *sigh*
stormfish · 2014-11-12: 14:28
rmjannette this is all so incredible. I like following this on your blog. the twins and I were just on the NASA site and also perusing the web reading about it and watching photos and poking at images. incredible.
rmjannette · 2014-11-12: 14:34
noptek Great post !! I'm gotta put some wings on my washing machine !!
noptek · 2014-11-12: 14:38
stormfish Philae is sending "good morning!" :-) obviously, the lander is placed in a "stable position" on the comet 67P and is relaying data, including, hopefully, pictures soon via rosetta to earth.

even if the lander had troubles to fix itself on the comet - the whole mission is a huge success, both for space exploration and human sciences. being used to sci fi movies with spectacular images, action scenes that propagate so much of the illusion of "easy" space travel, appreciating the actual REAL achievements of science and technology up there in the vast emptiness of space is not always easy. the "indiana jones" like stunt of landing something like Philae is a welcome reminder that REAL space exploration is still hard; much harder than dreaming about it and making people believe we're already doing it every day.
stormfish · 2014-11-13: 04:26
stormfish so apparently, the Philae lander has bounced off TWICE and landed, finally, in an area not yet clearly identified on the comet. however, it's safe and sound and sending back data and pictures! :-)
stormfish · 2014-11-13: 08:34
rmjannette i heard today that it needs a certain amount of sunlight to continue working. this is so interesting. and it is maybe down in a crevasse of some sort? what will happen to it if it does indeed need sunlight to continue working and cannot reach any?
rmjannette · 2014-11-14: 01:32
stormfish Philae is obviously positioned on her side next to some walls which makes the whole place a "shady corner"... but nevertheless, she performs well. the original design of the lander has her using batteries for up to 70 hours to perform all the science experiments she carries along; after that time, she would need to use her external solar panels (all of her sides are covered with them) to replenish energy - and in her position at the moment, she only gets 1.5 hours of sunlight during every rotation of the comet, which is considerably less then what the scientists hoped for.

however, the whole mission design was never meant to keep her going for months and months, we're talking all extra cherries on top of the thick icing of the cake of an epically successful mission here; and it's been noted with a frown by many of the involved scientists who run this mission that the international press mostly is fixing their attention on the problems and what went "wrong" here, blowing that up to proportions overshadowing the entirely fantastic success of the whole thing. the whole Philae landing "stunt" is only making up about 20% of the mission goals, a mere "indiana jones" adventure action, and most of THAT has been successful with the lander sending back a stream of data from half of the planned experiments, plus pictures from its surface - something we simply never ever had before... so even if that's the end of what we see from her, we already got more than we possibly could hope for. :-)

I'm looking forward to the results of all that data analysis, which will of course take some time now. who knows... maybe we all come from the comets?
stormfish · 2014-11-14: 03:16
Francesc21 Very interesting set
Francesc21 · 2014-11-15: 10:00
DancingDolphin Your passion for space comes out... can you just imagine if this was YOUR project... incredible!
DancingDolphin · 2014-12-05: 13:04
yellodog About 15 years ago I had a colleague who said he had a commission to calculate the orbit for an ESA space probe that was going to harpoon and land on a comet. I remember wondering if it was he or me that was hallucinating.
yellodog · 2014-12-05: 13:40
josy63 Your photos and your passion for the space infinite are magnificent. These discoveries leave me open-mouthed. It's simply hallucinating and wonderful.
josy63 · 2014-12-14: 01:38
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Tagged: rosetta philae comet landing esa space travel 67p
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