back to article Philae healthier: Proud ESA shows off first comet surface pic

The ESA’s historic comet-landing probot Philae has re-established contact with mission control and is currently stable on the surface. El Reg's space vulture Brid-Aine Parnell reports from mission command at the ESA ops complex at Darmstadt, Germany. Philae takes a first look at the surface of Comet 67P BEHOLD! The first …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Of couser...

    The nay-sayers and those who refuse to admin that there was ever a 'One small step...' broadcast from the moon will say that the picture is just a lump of Coal.

    To the ESA team wherever you are a big 'Jolly well done Chaps/Chapsesses'.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Of couser...

      "I'm indignant that the contract didn't go to a mega corp along with exclusive media, mineral and tourism rights!"

      Tim Worstall

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Of couser...

      It is a lump coal, and I am in no doubt whatsoever that the shadow towards the bottom of the picture is that of the Loch Ness Monster. As the Loch Ness Monster couldn't possibly have hitched a ride on the probe, then this picture must be a FAKE.

    3. Cipher

      Re: Of couser...

      How long before "face on mars" type theories start making the rounds?

      Somewhere a wingnut is udating his Photoshop/Gimp...

  2. Martin 47

    Awesome, just bloody awesome.

    Well done and thanks to all involved

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Just how or why the lander stopped bouncing..."

    I guess the camera missed the tentacle reaching out to grab it after the first bounce.

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: "Just how or why the lander stopped bouncing..."

      Not a tentacle, a couple of pink knitted hands.

      1. PC Paul

        Re: "Just how or why the lander stopped bouncing..."

        ,,,swearing drunkenly through a swanee whistle.

        You know it's true.

  4. TRT Silver badge

    Ignacio Tanco

    Sounds like a Harry Potter spell. Certainly magic that the little fella's down and appears safe.

    1. Kristaps

      Re: Ignacio Tanco

      A spell to do what? Ignite a tank engine?

  5. James 51

    The XKCD coverage is worth a look.

  6. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Couldn't put it better myself

    "Awesome, just bloody awesome."

  7. Forget It

    No soup dragon then?

    simulation video:

  8. stucs201

    Just like Kerbal

    I've had a few bouncy landings of my own. In both cases landed and functional is all that counts.

    1. DNTP

      Re: Just like Kerbal

      Everything can be dropped from orbit at least once…

      …and when you arm the grabbing claw attachment, it will stay down even on Dres.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More photos kept back >-(

    They have more pictures, but are keeping them back until the press conference.

    Embargoes suck, especially in publicly-funded science.

    1. James 51

      Re: More photos kept back >-(

      Might be a throw back to the first photos from Mars were they got the colours wrong and are checking them for glitches. More likely they are trying to maximise the impact of the photos and say this was money well spent, please keep funding space exploration.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More photos kept back >-(

      That was a bit mean. The scientists deserve some media attention, giving the slathering mob a little meat for a few hours won't hurt anybody.

      1. Jungleland

        Re: More photos kept back >-(

        With the data only coming in at 26 Kbps it will take some time for the images to actually reach Earth. Then there will be a need to tidy them up for the media etc. Add in the other data the probe is collecting and we have a bottleneck.

        And I hope most would agree that the people who have invested years of their lives into this project should get a preview before anyone else.

        1. Steven 1

          Re: More photos kept back >-(

          To be fair sometimes BT struggle to provide me 26 Kbps over a few miles, to do it over 300M miles is quite an effort!

        2. Colin of Rame

          Re: More photos kept back >-(

          26kbps link ....

          If they are intelligent enough to get a probe on a comet you would have thought they would know better than have a limited UNLIMITED TalkTalk connection :-)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More photos kept back >-(

          "And I hope most would agree that the people who have invested years of their lives into this project should get a preview before anyone else."

          Unfortunately those people work in silos with no network connection, and have to fetch their personal mobiles from a locker and walk around the car park in search of 2.5G network connections and try to see them from the ESA site. Only to be met with demands for Flash or endlessly loading Youtube :( At least from the digs I get almost 1mbps and a PC. Internally I've only seen an interview with someone who is now a senior manager but that I doubt worked on the project - and the only photo in the article was his face :/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More photos kept back >-(

      and the magnetometer data! why can't I see the magnetometer data live! why! and the xray spectrometer counts, the gas analysis curves with isotopic ratios? Oh, and I really want to see the MUPUS raw cometary data on mechanical properties, live, as they come in! Can you hear me ESA?

      Sod the pictures, who cares about them. I WANNA SEE SOME WIGGLY LINES ON A GRAPH! FROM A COMET! NOW!


      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: More photos kept back >-(

        > ... NOW!

        You could always point your own receiving dish at the appropriate point in the sky, and listen in. You'd be sure to get some wiggly data to plot...


    4. James 51

      Re: More photos kept back >-(

      If raw data was published the instant it was measured this would happen on a daily basis:

    5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: More photos kept back >-(

      Hmm maybe they spotted some green rings

      1. adnim

        Re: More photos kept back >-(

        They just making sure there are no kiddies in swimwear in the pictures

  10. EddieD

    You should have linked the hi-res

    It's glorious...


    'Kinell...that's a comet, that is...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: You should have linked the hi-res

      fixed that link for you

      1. Roger Varley

        Re: You should have linked the hi-res

        Desktop background changed after 2 secs of looking at that. Just fscking incredible

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: You should have linked the hi-res

      It's a lump of coal on a black sheet I tell ye!

      {See Icon}

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: You should have linked the hi-res

        "It's a lump of coal on a black sheet I tell ye!"

        I don't care. It's still my new desktop background.

    3. Camilla Smythe

      Re: You should have linked the hi-res

      Hmm.. Thanks for the Hi-Res. Notice to the bottom right there appears to have been something similar to a surface melt that might have re-frozen.... and there appears to be a bit of string poking out of it that is also coated in whatever melted.

      Soup Dragon indeed..

      Blue String Pudding!!!

      Comets are made of Blue String Pudding!!!!!1!!

      They are the interplanetary equivalent of frozen home deliveries for Clangers.

      Another great day as Science answers the mysteries of the Universe.




      Yoiks. I dragged that one into Gimp. Cropped to the relevant area and selected the 'colourise' tool, first time I have ever used it, and the default settings came up with this,

      Proof positive if it were needed.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You should have linked the hi-res

      That black triangle towards top right and the arcs above make me think it has crushed a rock monster.

  11. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Slid? In that gravity

    Err... I need to do some napkin math, but if the surface is not "rock as we know it" as it is expected to be sliding on it in that gravity field is not very likely. Bouncing - yes. Sliding... Do not think so.

  12. jzlondon

    Difficult to tell

    But... it doesn't half look like it's lying on its side to me.

    1. jzlondon

      Re: Difficult to tell

      Of course, I am quite literally no expert.

      1. IDoNotThinkSo

        Re: Difficult to tell

        It is definitely inclined at some angle. Possibly as much as 30 degrees.

        You can see one of the antennas resting on the surface in the bottom right of the image.

        Perhaps it bounced along until it hit a rock?

        Worry is that the solar panels won't get enough power. Maybe they'll try and bounce it again with the harpoons, the drill, or the flywheel after they've done some science.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Difficult to tell

          "Perhaps it bounced along until it hit a rock?"

          Microgravity doesn't mean no inertia. hitting a rock whilst going sideways is a bad thing.

    2. mountaineer

      Re: Difficult to tell

      What would you do after such a long journey..?

      1. A J Stiles

        Re: Difficult to tell

        I'd crouch down behind a rock, and boldly go where no-one had gone before .....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will it stay recording?

    I would love to see photos taken by Philae during the next orbit of the comet, as a precursor to a mission to seed comets with their own system-wide science gubbins.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where are the frickin' laser beams when you need them?

    To melt the ice under the feet before attaching.


    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: Where are the frickin' laser beams when you need them?

      I suspect this would have exactly the opposite of the intended effect as the ice would be apt to sublimate instead and push you away from the comet.

    2. A J Stiles

      Re: Where are the frickin' laser beams when you need them?

      The only thing that keeps water liquid on the surface of the Earth is about ten tonnes of air pressing on every square metre. Something that hasn't even got enough gravity to mould itself spherical is a bit unlikely to be able to keep much of an atmosphere round itself.

      When ice is warmed under a sufficiently low pressure or vacuum, it changes straight to steam without bothering to pass through water.

      Look up "Triple point" and be enlightened :)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd be happy if O2 could give me that on my morning commute. And they don't have to go HALF A BILLION KILOMETRES.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it meant to be monochrome ?

    1. breakfast

      This comet is billions of years old and colour wasn't really invented until the middle of the twentieth century.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That comet reminds me of home...

    That comet looks weirdly like a quarry pit near my home town.

    Congratulations to the team that managed to pull this off!

  18. Owain 1

    Leg off floor

    Is this the leg that is off the floor? If you look to the right of the leg then the black shape could be its shadow thrown onto the rock, assuming light is coming from the left of the photo. Since the shadow and the leg aren't attached, that would suggest this is the leg off the floor? Additionally the leg seems to be very well lit, but you cant see any rock lit at the bottom of it, also suggestive that the leg is not touching the floor.

    (I nearly said 'in the air' then. Which would have been an error.)

  19. a_mu

    geo sync ?

    First up, amazing, well done ,

    not knowing a thing about this,

    I'll ask

    is the comet spinning ?

    if so, and I say I know nothing,

    what would the height above the comet be for a synchronous orbit ?

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: geo sync ?

      Its rotational period is 12.4 hours. Distance to achieve synchronous orbit would also depend on the mass of the two objects (comet and satellite), only one of which is known. This exhausts my knowledge on the subject which was achieved by a quick pair of internet searches.

    2. Graham Newton

      Re: geo sync ?

      Rotation period is 12.4 hours . Geosync orbit about 5km from the centre.

  20. Stevie Silver badge


    So at least the picture-beaming gubbins is working on this fail-plagued machine. I assume there will be a full inquiry as to why.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      Those enquiry results in full: It turns out that 10 year space voyages followed by landings on a ball of ice are tricky, fraught with peril and complex. Who knew?

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Bah!

      <Reply sarc = comment sarc>

      Yes, and the inquiry will find that the imaging system was designed using SI units, only metres, so no foot in the mouth, and hence a succesful(ish) landing and and that is why there is a working imaging system.


  21. --. --- -..

    Headline -- ESA Spends Billion, Finds Rock.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      "Headline -- ESA Spends Billion, Finds Rock." Twat!

      Doing this has taken longer and is arguably more difficult than putting a rover on Mars; the patience required alone would have driven me crazy.

      THIS IS GREAT SPACE SCIENCE, anyone not impressed has little idea of what is involved in this achievement. People who can, do. People who can't, criticise.

      Hitting a comet and landing on it ten years and half a billion K away makes shooting the nuts off a gnat at a mile distance relatively easy.

  22. Mikel

    Way to go

    I hope they get it enough light to do some science. But landing on a comet alone is amazing.

  23. adam 40

    So what if it isn't tied down...

    ... we now have a ROVER!

    Great job and congratulations to the team.

  24. Anonymous John

    "lighter than a feather"

    What's that in NanoJubs?

  25. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I have a hard time believing that these pics aren't taken on a soundstage....

    Ironically, it would help me believe if Bruce Willis as somewhere in the shot.

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