Here’s the Philae lander!

September 5, 2016 • 12:00 pm

This was a tough one, and I sure didn’t see it. Here’s the original picture as posted this a.m.:


I’ve circled Philae:

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.13.20 AM
And here’s the detail of the area I circled; this and the top picture come from Rosetta Blog via reader coel:

Close-up of the Philae lander, imaged by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 2 September 2016 from a distance of 2.7 km. The image scale is about 5 cm/pixel. Philae’s 1 m-wide body and two of its three legs can be seen extended from the body. The images also provide proof of Philae’s orientation. The image is a zoom from a wider-scene, and has been interpolated. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

I think that at least one reader guess it correctly. The interesting blog post (read it) notes this:

The images were taken on 2 September by the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera as the orbiter came within 2.7 km of the surface and clearly show the main body of the lander, along with two of its three legs.

The images also provide proof of Philae’s orientation, making it clear why establishing communications was so difficult following its landing on 12 November 2014.

Yep, Philae bounced into a crack! No sun to power its batteries, and not much line of communication with Earth. Rosetta, however, is set to land on the comet as well, and we can expect more pictures soon:

The discovery comes less than a month before Rosetta descends to the comet’s surface. On 30 September, the orbiter will be sent on a final one-way mission to investigate the comet from close up, including the open pits in the Ma’at region, where it is hoped that critical observations will help to reveal secrets of the body’s interior structure.

6 thoughts on “Here’s the Philae lander!

  1. I was wrong. If you take the location as the center of a clock, go to the hour hand at about 7:30, there are two rocks above a dark space with something shiny in it. I thought the shiny thing was Philae.

  2. Got it! I knew it had landed in a crevice which really reduced the possible sites and, unlike living creatures, it has straight lines. I spotted it straight away.

    Much easier than Nightjars etc.

  3. It was where I thought… still looks a bit like a pile of rocks at first glance though and the leg could so easily have been a fortuitous group of pixels.

  4. Impossible to see!

    And also, quite impossible to tell the scale. Doug Adams was prescient:

    “For thousands more years the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across – which happened to be the Earth – where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.”


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