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The last mystery of the lost lander Philae has been solved



The Philae lander wedged under the rock on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The Philae lander wedged under the rock on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Scientists first reconstructed its uneven landing surface in 2014.

ESA / Rosetta / MPS MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA of OSIRIS team

On the surface of 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko, An icy comet that looks like a rubber duck The remains of the Philae lander are located about 370 million miles from the earth. In 2014, it was from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Landed to 67P, but not everything went according to plan. The harpoon that was supposed to be fixed to the comet did not fire. Philae bounced from the ground, swept over the edge of the cliff, and disappeared.

It sent a signal to the earth to confirm its normal operation, but the end result is a mystery.

It was discovered in a new image of the Rosetta probe 22 months later. Philae was in an awkward situation. Landing made it lie on its side, wedged into the 67P’s shadow crack, and had spider-like legs in the air. However, despite knowing its first landing site and final resting place, the lander data seems to indicate that it made a short second landing, which lasted only two minutes. Scientists are not sure where.

Lawrence O’Rourke, a planetary scientist at the European Space Agency, said: “Philae has left us with the last mystery to be solved.”

O’Rourke is the lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature, which discovered Philae’s second landing site and revealed the brittleness of the comet’s surface. This is a good example of deep space detective work, showing how Philae glides on the surface of 67P and makes an impression on the area called “Skull Top Ridge”.

After the unfortunate rebound, the last resting place of the lander was a gloomy grotto. 48 hours after the messy landing, the battery was exhausted. However, even if Philae’s landing did not proceed as planned, it provided researchers with an excellent opportunity to study 67P, revealing that the insides of comets and boulders are very soft-“fluffier than the foam on cappuccino” Rock.

Philae Fallin’ (broadcast tonight)

Comets like 67P are small cosmic objects mainly composed of dust, frozen with rocks and ice. They contain much more ice than asteroids, and they usually revolve around the sun deep in the solar system beyond Neptune, forming rings larger than rocky asteroids.When comets approach the sun, their frozen bodies begin to melt, sometimes Cause a dramatic outbreak. They are very old-they most likely formed when the solar system was born, and have remained unchanged for about 4.5 billion years.

The Rosetta mission and Philae lander were the first spacecraft to orbit the moon and land on the surface of a comet six years ago. Their cameras provide one of the most incredible short films ever and give us the best understanding of the surface and dynamic environment of these ancient remains.

The scientists used these same cameras to establish a crime scene around Philae’s side. They looked at thousands of images taken by Rosetta and data collected before Philae’s untimely demise. Selling backwards, they constructed a timeline of events, pointed out the exact location of the second landing-and revealed the most fascinating secret of 67P.

When Philae hit the top ridge of the skull, it scraped about 10 inches of dust and debris from the surface of the 67P, exposing the icy interior of the comet. In the images taken by Rosetta, the ice is very bright, and the team was able to prove that even in the images taken nearly two years after the crash of Philae, the ice is still visible because it lives in the shadow of the comet with almost no sunlight .

The timing of the crash is also important because it can calculate the softness of the 67P. By analyzing the data from the magnetometer in Philae, the team noticed a significant peak during the second landing. The spike lasted about 3 seconds. The research team learned that Philae “bounced” on the pristine ice layer inside, and concluded that the compression strength is incredibly low and soft as “fresh snow.”

Rechecking the magnetometer data also helped the team reduce the first touchdown time by 90 seconds.

Asteroids like comets and asteroids are the main focus of two ongoing missions: ab bird 2 asteroid dragon palace tour with NASA’s Osiris-Rex flies to the potentially dangerous asteroid Bennu.The latter completed Bennu’s almost successful touchdown on October 20th, dug too much rock from the surface Sample collector wedge open. Osiris-Rex mission scientists were surprised to find that Bennu was so crowded, which highlights why Philae data is so important for future missions.

Now that planetary scientists have a better understanding of the physical characteristics of comets, they can plan missions to land or return to samples with greater certainty. Matt Taylor, the project scientist of the Rosetta mission, said: “The interior of the comet is so fluffy, it is indeed valuable information for how to design the landing mechanism and the mechanical process that may be required to obtain samples.” ESA press release.

Such a task was submitted to ESA’s long-term plan Voyage 2050 as a white paper in March 2019. The Ambition project will be the first plan to return cryogenically stored samples from the inside of the comet to Earth. The Voyage 2050 Committee will issue recommendations on mission selection in 2021.




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