The Philae Landing: In 3D and Audio!

It’s been a week since the historic landing of Philae on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the data keeps coming in.  As an Astronomy communicator, I’m always looking for great visual aids in my Astronomy in Action Shows.  They are more valuable to me than any piece of written news because they illustrate a concept quickly and efficiently.  A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

But audio and video can be worth even more!

Recently an image of the Philae landing was released, showing two images approximately 2 minutes apart.  This image gives a 3-Dimensional perspective of the comet as the lander approached it.  Break out your blue/red shades.

Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

These images were taken with the ROLIS camera when Philae was less than 3 Km from the comet.  The resolution is about 10 feet per pixel, and we can see the landing site below centre of the image.

The image is great, but there is also some audio of THE LANDER HITTING THE COMET!!!!

Can you tell I’m excited? This is incredible, listen for yourself.

It’s a short thud, but very characteristic of what we found on the comet: a thin layer of powdery dust covering a hard shell of ice and rock.

“The Philae lander came into contact with a soft layer several centimeters thick,” said Klaus Seidensticker, lead scientist for the CASSE instrument from the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin. “Then, just milliseconds later, the feet encountered a hard, perhaps icy layer on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.”

This sound originated further away than anything you have or may ever hear in your life.  Incredible!

 

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