After making history as the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet, Europe’s Philae lander collected data on the rugged alien world’s environment and may have rebounded into space before settling back on the surface, scientists said Wednesday.
A new analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini mission in combination with lab experiments contradicts the leading theory that the striking colour of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is due to reddish chemicals upwelling from below.
Europe’s comet-bound Philae probe released from its Rosetta orbiter mothership Wednesday, snapping photos of the spacecraft that ferried the lander on a ten-year journey from Earth to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Paolo Ferri, ESA’s Head of Mission Operations, expresses relief at the apparently successful release of Philae from the Rosetta mothership but the potential loss of a crucial touchdown system has caused increased anxiety about the landing.
A potential problem with a rocket thruster designed to keep the Philae lander from bouncing off comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after touchdown Wednesday will make the probe’s daring descent even more challenging, officials said.