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Rosetta mission

Comet robot Philae found intact but defunct

Visual contact has been made with a robot that landed on the comet “Chury” in 2014, just weeks before the scientific mission enters its final stage. Sightings confirmed that the Philae lander ended up in a crevasse which rendered its solar powered battery obsolete.

Swiss scientists have been involved in the European Space Agency (ESA) project to examine a comet and gather information on its structure.

Philae landed in November 2014, but lost contact with the orbiting Rosetta probe that dropped it on the comet.

"It was very important to find Philae before the mission ended, to understand the context of its in-situ scientific measurements," Mark McCaughrean, ESA's senior science advisor, told the BBC.

"But it was probably just as important to provide some emotional closure for the millions who have been following both Philae and Rosetta through the trials and tribulations of their exploration of this remarkable remnant of the birth of our Solar System.”

On September 30, Rosetta itself will land on the comet, marking the end of the mission. This is when equipment designed by researchers at the University of Bern will come into its own.

Swiss scientists developed the Rosetta mission’s cameras and spectrometers as part of the ROSINA project (Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis). The instruments help collect and analyse data about the composition of the comet Chury, including atoms, molecules and ions in the comet’s vapour.

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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