Despite rough touchdown, Philae able to collect some data
On November 12, a robot called Philae fell from its mother ship Rosetta onto comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, touching down not once but three times. Philae’s final resting place, however, put it in a tough spot — in a crevice, in the shadow of a cliff, with two legs on the ground and one in space.
The precarious position wasn’t exactly what mission scientists from the European Space Agency had planned for with the first ever comet landing (SN: 11/1/14, p. 22). Resting on two legs, rather than three, raised concerns about whether all of Philae’s instruments would work correctly. Worse, the cliff’s shadow also blocked solar panels from harvesting enough sunlight to recharge Philae’s batteries, leaving the lander with only about 50 hours of power to explore its new home. Mission scientists were left scrambling to wring as many details as