We've Landed on a Frakkin Comet!
Congratulations to the European Space Agency on their successful mission to land a probe on a comet. This is a first that will certainly get a well-deserved place in the record books.
The handful of images I’ve seen of the comet are certainly beautiful but the most arresting image is the one above that gives comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko a wonderful sense of its size. Three kilometers sounds tiny especially considering that the usual astronomical objects I talk about are many thousands of times bigger. Downtown Los Angeles though looks like an anthill compared to this doesn’t it?
The initial excitement of the successful landing after decades of effort was tempered a bit by a series of glitches including the failure of the anchoring harpoons and the downwards facing thrusters which were meant to press the probe called Philae into the comet a bit. A firm grip on the surface of the comet is especially important. Its gravity is so meager (1/100,000th of earth) that the washing-machine sized probe weighs only 1 gram. There’s also indications that the probe bounced around at least three times before settling at a tipped-up angle in the shadow of a nearby cliff. This will certainly limit the utility of the solar panels.
The current status of the mission changes frequently of course so definitely google around to get the latest updates.
My only other comment is this…It certainly doesn’t look like a dirty snowball to me
IMAGE CREDIT: Matt Wang