back to article Fridge-size probot headed for comet touchdown

The European Space Agency is at the eve of one of its most ambitious projects: the passive landing of a small scientific craft on the surface of a comet that’s hurtling through space at over 60,000kmph. Your El Reg correspondent will be reporting from the ESA control centre at Darmstadt, Germany, bringing you the story as it …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I may have missed this bit in the article.

    Philae is scheduled to detach from Rosetta on 12 November 2014 at 08:35 UTC, with a landing seven hours later

  2. qwertyuiop
    Pint

    Official unit?

    Is "fridge-sized" now an official El Reg unit? If so, can you give some guidance on interpreting it in more conventional units? For example, I own both a "beer fridge" and an "American style" fridge freezer - one is roughly a 2 foot cube and the other is about 6 feet high, 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep*. Which of these is officially "fridge-sized"?

    * obviously this latter is the beer fridge!

    1. Sealand

      Re: Official unit?

      This is space.

      Beer is measured in cubic light years.

      Meanwhile, El Reg certainly seems to have entered the realm of 'journalistic measurement' with units such as football fields, jumbo jets, stone's throws, swimming pools, and now of course fridges.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Official unit?

        You are of course forgetting the internationally accepted unit of areas affect by natural/ecological disaster - the "wales". As in:

        - the tsunami devastated an are the size of Wales. Or;

        - an area the size of Wales is deforested every year.

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Official unit?

          For those of you new to these climes, TheRegister is not new at this and in fact we have standards to adhere to. Are we positing a new standard?

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/

          And for all your conversion needs:

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

          Enjoy!

        2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          Re: "an area the size of Wales is deforested every year."

          Nah. Nuke Wales and have done with it

        3. koswix

          Re: Official unit?

          And yet for some reason it never seems to actually be Wales.

      2. Simon Harris
        Pint

        Re: Official unit?

        "Beer is measured in cubic light years."

        1 cubic light year is about 3.3869 x 10^44 Olympic swimming pools. That's a lot of beer!

        1. Vic

          Re: Official unit?

          1 cubic light year is about 3.3869 x 10^44 Olympic swimming pools. That's a lot of beer!

          Can't you find three friends to help you?

          Vic.

  3. Chris Long

    Relativity

    "hurtling through space at 60,000 bazillion light years per nanosecond, etc"

    Why must you try to sensationalise an otherwise-interesting article with irrelevant nonsense like this?

    1. Stumpy Silver badge

      Re: Relativity

      Because this is The Register. If you want serious, non-sensational journalism I suggest you check out The Sun, The People or The Mirror.

  4. Simon Harris

    Lighter than a feather...

    But how heavy is the feather in the weak gravity of comet 67P?

    1. wiggers

      Re: Lighter than a feather...

      Still has the momentum of a fridge approaching a hard thing though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lighter than a feather...

      Saw video of a brilliant experiment recently - a feather and a bowling ball were dropped from height on one of NASA's larger vacuum chambers...

      Was freaky to watch them descend at exactly the speed! I know the Neutonian maths proves it will be the case, but making your brain accept it fully without seeing it is something else.

      1. Rustident Spaceniak
        Boffin

        Re: Lighter than a feather...

        Er, we did that feather-and-ball experiment at school in a one-meter vacuum tube, many moons ago.

        Nonetheless, isn't it impressive to think this thing just falls down from 20km up, and reaches ground after seven hours and at walking speed? Try that, Franz Baumgarnter!

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: Lighter than a feather...

          "this thing just falls down from 20km up, and reaches ground after seven hours and at walking speed"

          Just think, it falls 20km, and hits with about the same force as if it'd only been dropped a meter on Earth... The mind boggles!

  5. g e

    In space no one can hear your sonar

    Sonar? In space?

    1. A J Stiles

      Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

      I think you'll find that sound travels pretty well through rock .....

      1. frank ly

        Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

        ".., sound travels pretty well through rock ..."

        Yes it does, but how will the sound be coupled to the rock through the vacuum at the comet's surface. Maybe Philae will smear it with a big blob of K-Y Jelly? Maybe it's actually radar and not sonar? The devil is always in the details.

    2. TitterYeNot

      Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

      "Sonar? In space?"

      Yes, sonar will work perfectly well through ice and/or rock once the craft is in physical contact with the comet.

      Alternatively, it's space sonar modelled on British linguistic behaviour when in foreign climes - it will modulate slowly but very, very loudly...

      1. Rustident Spaceniak

        Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

        The trick is to stick your emitter and microphone right into the comet. The sonar equipment is attached to Philae's feet - much like the legs of a spider or cockroach I understand.

        1. g e

          Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

          Possibly hence the ice screws, then, doubling up as an acoustic coupler

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

          The trick is to stick your emitter and microphone right into the comet.

          So Philae isn't so much landing on as mating with the comet?

          1. Rustident Spaceniak
            Alien

            Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

            Pssst - don't tell anybody yet! We're not sure what'll be generated.

            Edit: In any case, alien worlds, like our Earth Mother, are female. Philae provides the male element.

          2. Captain DaFt

            Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

            "The trick is to stick your emitter and microphone right into the comet.

            So Philae isn't so much landing on as mating with the comet??"

            Sounds more like it's motorboating the comet! <PBLBLBLBL!>

        3. Mephistro

          Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

          "The trick is to stick your emitter and microphone right into the comet."

          Ha! At last, revenge for all those innocent humans that have been 'probed' by aliens over the years! This will show them!!!

    3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: In space no one can hear your sonar

      In space, no one can hear you ping?

      Or is it more like drumming its fingers on the cometary desk?

      Try it - ear hard on the desk and listen carefully as you drum your fingers on the desk ... now move the fingers around and listen to the variation in response and relate that to mass of rubbish on the desk. Now, explain to the boss what you were just doing ...

  6. Elmer Phud
    Alien

    Beer fridge?

    Close -- it's a mini-bar for our alien overlords.

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Pint

    Wonderful stuff from ESA

    Hope they pull it off. Will raise a glass of "distilled beer" (the single malt variety) if they do (and drink a consolation one if they don't)

  8. Anomalous Cowshed

    Fridge-sized robot...

    Today Fridge-sized, ye puny humans. Tomorrow, your worst nightmare come true!!! Ex-ter-mi-nate! Ex-ter-mi-nate!

  9. Ralph B

    Comet-Seeding

    If it possible that life here was seeded from comets, may we ponder from where this proto-DNA might have come? Might it be that some other civilisation, remote in space and time, faced with the impracticalities/impossibilities of sending actual living bodies on such a journey, decided to send just amino acids?

    If not, are there any grounds to think that the natural formation of such building-blocks of life is more likely to have occurred elsewhere than hereabouts, cosmically speaking. (I guess so, since there is vastly more of everything elsewhere than there is hereabouts, cosmically speaking.)

    Do we know if this particular comet originated from the Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud? (And don't these both count as fairly local, cosmically speaking?)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    hitting with a clang - er

    and what will the metal chicken say about all this?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021