“We are the first to (land on a comet) and that will remain forever!”

Jubilation at ESA!

A Philae selfie, just shortly after it separated from Rosetta.

A Rosetta selfie just after Philae separation. Courtesy ESA/Rosetta mission.

Congratulations to ESA and its partners for successfully landing the Philae probe on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  It was an incredibly intricate and difficult task, but they pulled it off!

As of 8:03 a.m. MST (16:03 UT) the lander had sent back it’s “I’m here!” message. Now, the images and data will follow!  Stay tuned!

It appears that the landing was very soft and gentle. The anchors did not shoot into the surface, yet but it’s possible the landing feet screws have deployed. Engineers are considering reshooting the anchors after assessing the situation.

Philae as spotted by the OSIRIS camera after it left Rosetta.  Courtesy ESA/Rosetta mission.

Philae as spotted by the OSIRIS camera after it left Rosetta. Courtesy ESA/Rosetta mission.

So, stay tuned!  Hopefully images will be coming soon!

Note: you can follow the mission here at ESA when they have updates and images to report.




Rosetta Has its Own SoundCloud Channel!

Okay this one is pretty darned cool. According to the folks at the ESA/Rosetta blog, the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (a group of scientists using various instruments to measure the plasma environment around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) have “heard” the comet’s “song”.

Listen to it here:

Now, if you were sitting in space right next to the comet, this isn’t exactly what you’d hear. It’s actually actually the vibrations from oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment.  The song is really pitched at 45-50 millihertz, which is far below what you or I can hear with our ears. So, the technical wizards on the RPC team increased the frequencies about a factor or 10,000 so we can hear it.

Sounds pretty cool, really. I have a bunch of questions about the exact mechanism, which is probably something to do with the solar wind somehow interacting with ejecta from the comet.  I’ve heard some similar-sounding kinds of files of what happens when the solar wind hits our upper atmosphere.  Perhaps there will be more explanation of how the comet is interacting with its environment to produce these sounds coming up soon.

For now, though, remember that the comet IS spewing material out from under its surface, and those particles can become energized (ionized) by the solar wind. This action is part of what forms the comet’s plasma tail (although I don’t recall hearing if the comet HAS  a substantial one yet).