Since I’m not going to be able to get much actual work done for the next hour or so, I thought I’d start up a little live blog. Because we’re landing on a fricken comet!!!
Here’s the live webcast:
10:22 am EDT: Philae undocks and waves goodbye to Rosetta!
And here’s a view of the Philae lander from the Osiris orbiter!
10:41 am EST: Philae should have landed a few minutes ago. The whole world is waiting for its signal to arrive at the speed of light. It can’t get here fast enough.
10:55 am EST: Hearing reports that the folks on the livestream don’t look happy. The signal is coming. We’ll soon know for real.
11:04 am EST: WE DOD IT!!!!!!!!
11:12 am EST:
— CanadianSpaceAgency (@csa_asc) November 12, 2014
11:17 am EST: It’s hard to describe exactly what I’m feeling right now. So much time and effort went into this mission and yet it’s really just beginning. Now that Philae is down, the science from the surface of the comet can begin. The significance of landing on a comet cannot be understated. Not only is it a remarkable engineering achievement in and of itself, but we now have an opportunity to study a relic of the formation of our own solar system up close.
We do great things when we want to.
11:44 am EST: It looks like there is something to be concerned about. After soft landing a thruster was supposed to fire and harpoon anchors were supposed to fire into the comet. This did not happen so they cannot confirm that they are attached to the comet. Ugh.
The problem is that comets have very low gravitational fields. Therefore, Philae isn’t designed to land on, but rather attach itself to the comet. To do this, Philae is designed to fire harpoons into the surface upon landing. It seems that this did not happen and they’re trying to figure out a) if this is in fact the case, and b) what options they might have to attempt a refiring.
12:19 pm EST: It looks like Philae, while not (yet?) stable, isn’t in any danger and may be able to still get good science done. It’s going to be a while before they decide what to do next and I’m sure they’re not going to do anything that puts the science mission into further jeopardy. I’m gonna wrap up this live blog here and just say how amazing it is that we landed on a comet for the first time ever. Well done, ESA!