Doomed Philae lander by chance did a science by denting the comet

Enlarge / The close-ups spotlight the brilliant ice uncovered within the boulders when Philae struck them throughout its second landing (inexperienced field above). (credit score: O’Rourke et al./Nature)
The Rosetta mission’s try and drop the Philae lander on a comet in 2014 didn’t go in keeping with plan. The harpoon mechanism meant to stay Philae to terra-not-quite-firma didn’t work, and poor Philae ended up bouncing round and touchdown below a darkish cliff overhang, unable to deploy its photo voltaic panels and full its duties. However let it not be mentioned that Philae failed to depart its mark. As a result of it did. Fairly actually.
To extract worth from Philae’s unintentional journey, researchers have labored arduous to establish the spots the place the craft impacted the floor of the comet. This required painstaking evaluation of Philae’s movement sensors to reconstruct its trajectory, together with a terrifically advanced recreation of “one in every of these items just isn’t just like the others” performed with before-and-after pictures of the comet’s jumbled floor.
The location of the preliminary bounce was simple sufficient to seek out, however the path from there to its resting place was one other story. A brand new examine led by the European House Company’s Laurence O’Rourke reveals one other spot the place Philae dented comet 67P. And the scale of that dent truly tells us one thing outstanding about what comets are like.Learn 10 remaining paragraphs | Feedback

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