“Come out, come out wherever you are” for 2 years these words were spining in space scientists heads while searching for the Philae lander. On the 5th of September, it finally came out. Philae lander’s position was located on a comet orbiting near the sun.
The Philae lander is a part of Rosetta mission which was carried out by European Space Agency (ESA). The mission started in 2004. It was launched to explore comet 67P.
Matt Taylor, Rosetta project scientist, told The Spoke that Rosetta mission was a pioneering adventure. Before that, nobody knew how the comet looked like. However, scientists found out more, and this project’s influence to space exploration was bigger than expected.
“A window back in time,” this is how Mr. Taylor describes the exploration of the comet. It provides information about the world before the solar system and planets were formed, it shows how comets become active, how they are working, and what happens when a comet is approaching the sun. According to Rosetta mission scientist, the information collected during the mission exceeds everything that was done in space science so far.
Taylor says that “Science gives more questions than answers,” however, information that was gathered during the mission “enables us to do more science.” ESA is hoping for a decade-lasting research. At the moment, they are waiting for the proposals for the future missions, which should be clear in a few months.
The finding of Philae is important as it confirms the precise landing location and gives a psychological advantage. It sets the comet in a broader picture, as it provides more accurate and precise visual observation compared to the resolution from the satellite, Taylor says.
The Netherlands is one of the 14 countries taking part in the Rosetta mission. The spacecraft will land on a comet on the 30th of September. It will be a challenging process because of the gravity.
The article ends here. Science continues its adventure.