Touchdown! What landing on a comet looks like (VIDEO)
It took data from both the Philae lander and the Rosetta orbiter to create animation simulating the lander’s touchdown on the comet. It focuses on Philae’s dramatic two-hour flight from Agilkia to Abydos, across the comet’s surface, that included three touchdowns and a collision.
“With hindsight, one year later and watching the movie, I am astonished how lucky we were!” says Jens Biele, the lead author of the first scientific paper relating lander impacts to surface properties. “But we learned a lot about the surface mechanical properties from these bounces, and Philae finally landed in an interesting terrain where we would have never dared to land in the first place!”
The Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is named after soviet astronomers that had spotted it first in 1969 - Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko. It became Rosetta’s destination in 2004 and when its lander, Philae, touched down on the comet in 2014 - it became the first spacecraft ever to land on a comet.
The spot where Philae made its first touchdown was dubbed Agilkia, and the one where he finally settled down is Abydos.
Anyone can follow Philae’s adventure times through their witty Twitter page @Philae2014.