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2015-08-02. By Patrick.
Fig. 1. Image of 67P. Downloaded from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Comet_67P_on_19_September_2014_NavCam_mosaic.jpg). The Wikipedia has the following licensing information: This photography is a Rosetta NAVCAM image created by European Space Agency (ESA). Their website states : "All Rosetta NAVCAM images are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO License."
This has been an incredible astronomical week with images from both Pluto and comet 67P. It was tough deciding which to write about and I don't know why I chose 67P. Both missions are superb engineering feats and are yielding incredible new data. Had to choose just one though. So here goes.
The 2014-11-12, Philae lander landed on comet 67P. Wow. We actually landed on a comet! I just have to pause for a bit - that is so cool. Yes, I know, it wasn't exactly a nice landing. More like a bounce. And then Philae couldn't get any sunlight, used up its batteries, and went to sleep. Still though, we put a machine down on a comet! Any way, this was a while ago. Then, just a few weeks ago, Philae woke up and started sending data again. After the initial excitement it caused, it looks like Philae will remain silent. So the researchers working on the project decided to publish the findings from the initial data gathered around the time of the landing.
And wow again! If you haven't seen the papers in the July-31 issue of Science, you are in for a treat. There is data on the magnetism of the comet nucleus (or rather the lack of magnetism). There two papers on organic compounds found on the surface of 67P. These were analyzed using a mass spec. There is a really cool analysis of Philae's bouncing on the surface from which they deduced mechanical properties of the comet. There are some close-up images of the comet surface taken during the descent of Philae including one of those stereo red/green images of a bolder and an interesting discussion of the particle deposition around it. There is data on the temperature of the comet surface throughout the comet day. There is data about the comet nucleus from radar measurements. And there are images taken by Philae just after touchdown and at its final location.
Wow. Still amazed.
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