Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera team has found the silent Philae lander on the surface of comet 67P
Nearly two years after its historic landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ESA’s lander has finally been spotted in an image from the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft—PHILAE HAS BEEN FOUND!
The images above show comet 67P imaged by Rosetta in April 2015 (top right) and on Sept. 2, 2016 (left). In the Sept. 2 image, captured by Rosetta’s high-resolution OSIRIS camera, Philae can be seen positioned sideways at the base of a large boulder, one of its three legs sticking up into the sunlight.
Mission scientists at ESA have been searching for Philae in images taken by Rosetta since its landing in November 2014. The lander’s harpoons failed to fire upon touchdown, causing it to bounce off the comet’s surprisingly hard surface and soar a considerable distance away from its intended landing area.
There were several areas that were strongly suspected as being Philae’s final location but this is the first actual visual confirmation of the lander in position on the comet. It was identified by OSIRIS team member Cecilia Tubiana when the high-resolution images arrived on Sept. 4.
“With only a month left of the Rosetta ...