back to article Retired Philae lander slouches on Comet 67P

The European Space Agency's (ESA) obsolete robotic lander Philae has been spotted lying on its side in the dark depths of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as the Rosetta mission nears completion. The images were snapped on 2 September by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on board the spacecraft, which has orbited the comet within …

  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Every coma has a silver lining.

    I wonder how much more was discovered by people staring at images trying to find this poor little lost box of tricks?

  2. 0laf

    What a shame, looks like it couldn't have really landed in a worse place.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Murphy in spaaaace....

      ... if a landing goes wrong, you'll end in the worst possible place...

    2. Ed Cooper

      With so little gravity once the landing went wrong it was fairly inevitable that it would skate/tumble across the surface until something stopped it.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      It's good thing then that there was no AI for voice comms. It probably would have yelled like someone falling off a ladder. But, to think it took that kind of beating and landed in a less then "good" position and was still able do some science is remarkable.

      1. Captain DaFt

        "It's good thing then that there was no AI for voice comms."

        No need for AI, a simple line of code along the lines of, -If situation="TITSUP" play "wilhelmscream.wav"-, should suffice.

  3. stuartnz

    Where's the Trickle Down?

    When will the technology that lets them find a probe a gajillion swimming pool lengths away be available to The.Rest.Of.Us, so we can find our missing socks and pens? My friend Veet Voojagig would like to know.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Where's the Trickle Down?

      It's already available. It's called Determination and Patience. Just, it's not for everybody...

      1. Matt 21

        Re: Where's the Trickle Down?

        Oh come on, you don't need to go to those extremes! Everyone knows the best way to find something is to buy another one. I lost my camera, I looked "everywhere" and after a few months finally bought a new one. The next day I found my lost camera......

        1. PaulR79

          Re: Wher Matt 21e's the Trickle Down?

          @Matt 21 I can confirm this theory from my extensive testing (1 experience). I lost my disc for a PlayStation 2 game, I can't remember what it was but I looked in all the places I thought it should be with no success. I gave in and bought a used copy for not much money and found the misplaced disc within a day after having looked on and off for a month.

        2. Captain DaFt

          Re: Where's the Trickle Down?

          -I looked "everywhere" and after a few months finally bought a new one. The next day I found my lost camera......-

          Known in paranormal circles as, "a sacrifice to The Lord of Hidden Objects, AKA Picabu*."

          *Not to be confused with a Pokemon of similar name.

  4. lglethal Silver badge

    Such a shame

    If you look at the image it looks like Philae is only about 2m away from being in Sunlight. Just 2m. 2 tiny metres. After travelling 6,4 billion kilometres. 2 metres is the difference between a mission lasting 60 hours and a mission lasting days, maybe months.

    2 metres. Space is a harsh mistress...

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Such a shame

      Very true in these pictures, but I think that the "season" (i.e. orientation with respect to the sun) of that region on 67-P has changed so what looks like a mere 2m from sunlight may have been much more (or even complete darkness) when it first bounced to a halt.

  5. cd / && rm -rf *

    "If you look at the image it looks like Philae is only about 2m away from being in Sunlight. Just 2m. 2 tiny metres"

    Aye. So near and yet so far. Have a virtual beer, plucky little lander. See icon.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Beer for those who built it and those who worked out what happened. Sturdy little beast it was.

  6. teebie

    'Rosetta mission is due to end as the spacecraft plans for a “controlled descent” into the comet on 30 September.' at which point it will bounce twice, flip over, crash into the duck's next and snap it in half.

  7. David Lewis 2

    Look Closely

    If you look reeeeaaaaaaally closely I'm sure you can see the clamp and parking ticket!

    I wonder how much the fine will rack up by the time the comet comes around again and we mount an expedition to retrieve it?

  8. Hollerithevo

    Sleep well, little Philae

    And noble Rosetta, I hope your final crash is soft. And we will think of you as your comet steed finally flies out to the chill reaches of the solar system, carrying humanity's astonishing first attempt to ride a comet. You will stand as mute representatives of smart monkeys whose brains cannot be thwarted by distance or imagination. Ave and Vale!

  9. dgc03052

    Big flashlight, anyone?

    All right, so who's got a really big flashlight with a real narrow focus, that can track a spinning comet? Give it a jump start by lighting up it's solar panels...

  10. Jo_seph_B

    Why not leave it.

    Why crash rosetta. Can't it just be left to float about. Its not cluttering up earth orbit like all the other junk. After 12 years it deserves to be left to float about. One day it might be found (Still holding out hope Voyager will be found one day). Yes, I may have been watching too much star trek recently.....

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Why not leave it.

      Not enough gravity to keep it in an orbit around the comet without energetic input. Eventually the mothership will fly off or crash in. Why not do it in sight of Earth's telescopes?

    2. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Why not leave it.

      I agree, but as a stable orbit is pretty much impossible, try to set it down gently?

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Why not leave it.

        Setting down as gently as possible has to be weighed against using more fuel for stationkeeping and doing a little more science. The balance in this case seems to fall on orbiting a little longer and setting down a little less gently. Given orbital velocity around the comet is measured in single digit meter per seconds the touchdown will be relatively mild in space vehicle context in any case.

    3. Rocketist

      Re: Why not leave it.

      Actually, that crash wouldn't bend a fender if Rosetta was a car. They're trying to set it down really gently; unfortunately though, for some obscure legal reasons apparently, they'll have to switch it off right after landing.

      Anyway, I hope we'll at least get to see real close-up pictures of the ground.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Why not leave it.

        They're trying to find a parking meter?

  11. Winkypop Silver badge

    350,000 years from now....

    Earth receives an infringement for Fly Tipping by the Galactic Council.

    Well, the Esperance Shire Council did it to NASA.

    "The skylab crash put Esperance on the map, but it didn't stop the shire council having a light hearted dig at NASA for scatter space junk over the town, sending them a $400 fine for littering, which they never paid."

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