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Home / Science / ESA lander left a “skull” mark on Comet 67P

ESA lander left a “skull” mark on Comet 67P



On November 12, 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta The probe deployed a lander toward the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

It should have been a smooth touchdown, but it was more of a rebound.

Philae Lander repeatedly explored the surface of comet 67P, then stopped in a cave-like structure and closed it permanently. Now, six years later, scientists can finally determine exactly where Philae landed on the comet, and then landed again.

At a certain time of the year, the lander left its mark in a truly ghostly way-revealing the shape of a skull.

Skull rock.ESA / Rosetta / MPS MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA of OSIRIS team; O’Rourke and others (2020)

Philae’s second (accidental) landing site was detailed in a study published in the journal on Wednesday nature. Although there is no plan, the rebound has revealed unprecedented details about the comet-including how it formed.

Ancient ice— The Rosetta probe has been orbiting Comet 67P since August 2014, studying the comet’s nucleus and coma-the halo of dust and gas produced when the comet moves in space. Philae was originally the highest honor of the mission, although the lander did not fully insist on its landing.

Rosetta’s image shows that Paeae bounced towards the final still point. The lander first landed in an area of ​​the comet called Agilkia, and then flew for two hours. According to the European Space Agency, it then collided with the edge of the cliff, fumbled through the comet, and flew towards the second landing site. Philae finally stopped in a refuge, cave-like area Abydos.

Abydos Valley.Video and music produced by Gerhard Paar (Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH); Analysis: O’Rourke et al. (2020)

The second embarrassing discovery is to attract the attention of scientists to this research. When Philae hit the comet for the second time, he scratched the surface of the space rock, exposing a layer of ice when the comet formed.

Before Philae crashed, the ice had never been exposed to solar radiation. Instead, it has been protected under the dusty surface of the comet.

“Philae left us with the last mystery to be solved.” Laurence O’Rourke, who led the team that discovered Philae, said in a statement. “It is important to find the grounding point because the sensors on Philae indicate that it has dug into the ground, and it is likely to expose the original ice layer hidden under it. This will allow us to obtain the valuable value of billions of years of ice. “

Multiple landing sites for Philae.Image: Touchdown 1: ESA / Rosetta / Philae / ROLIS / DLR; All other images: OSIRIS team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA’s ESA / Rosetta / MPS; Analysis: O ‘Rourke et al. (2020)

Space Skull — This newly discovered primitive ice cube can be glimpsed in the images obtained by Rosetta-strangely, the ice cube looks like the face of a skeleton, attracting the minds of scientists studying it.

O’Rourke said: “When viewed from above, the shape of the boulder hit by Philae reminds me of a skull, so I decided to give the area a nickname, “Skull Top Ridge” and continue to use this theme for observation. Other features.”

ESA / Rosetta / MPS MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA of OSIRIS team; analysis: O’Rourke et al. (2020)

It is located only 30 meters from Philae’s body, and the exposed area of ​​naked ice is about 3.5 square meters. When capturing an image, the sun’s rays shine directly on the raw ice, which makes it appear brighter than the surrounding environment.

Ice has never been exposed to the space environment before, so it has never experienced space weathering. Essentially, it provides a window into what the comet looked like when it first formed.

The landing accident also provided an opportunity for scientists to measure the softness of the ice dust inside the comet boulder. Their conclusion: it is actually very soft and foamy.

“Farae’s simple action of stamping on the side of the gap allowed us to conclude that this ancient, billion-year-old mixture of cold dust is very soft-than the foam or foam on a cappuccino The foam found is more fluffy. On the bubble bath or on the waves at the beach,” O’Rourke said.

Scientists say Philae’s unfortunate landing may help inform other orbiting comets of future missions.

“We were unable to perform all the measurements we planned for 2014 with Philae, so using a magnetometer like this and combining the data from Rosetta and Angle with the intent never before is really amazing. These excellent results.” Philip Heinich, who leads the data analysis, said in a statement.


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