Space agency: Comet lander ends adult in precipice shadow

November 14, 2014 - photo frame

Berlin — Europe’s comet lander Philae has come to rest in a shade of a cliff, posing a intensity problem for a solar panels, scientists pronounced Thursday as they published a initial picture ever taken from a aspect of a comet.

The print shows a hilly terrain, with one of a lander’s 3 feet in a dilemma of a frame. It is partial of a slew of information that Philae is transmitting behind to Earth, indicating that a instruments are operative properly, pronounced Jean-Pierre Bibring, a lander’s lead scientist during a European Space Agency.

Before determining either to try to adjust a lander, scientists will spend a subsequent day or dual collecting as many information as probable while a primary battery still has energy. The lander’s solar panels were designed to yield an additional hour of battery life any day after that, though this competence not be probable now.

“We see that we get reduction solar appetite than we designed for,” pronounced Koen Geurts of a lander team.

“This, of course, has an impact on a appetite bill and a capabilities to control scholarship for an extended duration of time,” he said. “Unfortunately this is not a conditions that we were anticipating for.”

The lander scored a ancestral initial Wednesday, touching down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a decade-long, 4 billion-mile tour by space aboard a mom ship, Rosetta. The comet is tarnishing by space during 41,000 mph some 311 million miles from Earth.

The alighting was raid by a array of problems that began when thrusters meant to pull Philae onto a comet failed. Then dual harpoons, that should have anchored a lander to a surface, weren’t deployed.

This caused a lander to rebound off a comet and deposit by a blank for dual hours before touching down again. After a second smaller bounce, scientists trust it came to rest in a shoal void on a comet’s 4 kilometer-wide body, or nucleus.

“We are only in a shade of a cliff,” Bibring said, adding that photos prove a precipice could be only a few yards (meters) away. “We are in a shade permanently, and that is partial of a problem.”

Bibring and his colleagues stressed that a information they’ll be means to collect with a primary batteries alone will have done a alighting worthwhile.

“A lot of scholarship is removing lonesome now,” he said, observant that scientists would shortly get their hands on a tomography of a comet and information display either a matter it is done of is magnetized.

But since a lander is only resting on a comet with zero though low sobriety holding it down, Philae will have to reason off on one of a many critical experiments — drilling into a comet to remove some of a element buried underneath a surface.

Scientists wish to investigate this element since it has remained roughly unvaried for 4.5 billion years, creation them vast time capsules.

“Drilling but being anchored and but meaningful how we are on a aspect is dangerous. We competence only tip over a lander,” pronounced Stephan Ulamec, conduct of a lander operation. Gravity on a comet is 1/100,000th that of Earth, definition a soaking machine-sized lander weighs only 0.04 ounces there.

Ground controllers will expected wait until a initial large collection of information has been collected before attempting to adjust a lander so that a solar panels can locate a object and assign a batteries.

Communication with a lander is slow, with signals holding some-more than 28 mins to transport between Earth and a Rosetta orbiter drifting above a comet.

Even if Philae uses adult all of a energy, it will sojourn on a comet in a mode of hibernation for a entrance months. In speculation it could arise adult again if a comet passes a object in such a approach that a solar panels locate some-more light, pronounced Ulamec.

Meanwhile a orbiter, Rosetta, will also use a 11 instruments to investigate a comet over a entrance months. Scientists wish a $1.6 billion plan will assistance them improved know comets and other astronomical objects, as good as presumably answer questions about a origins of life on Earth.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This element competence not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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