In the night sky: Orion
In the night sky: Orion

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

In the night sky: Orion

4.2.7 Philae lander

Described image
Figure 21 Artist’s concept of Rosetta and the Philae lander on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

A team from The Open University was involved in building instruments for the Philae lander and were very excited when it landed in November 2014.

Unfortunately, however, Philae didn’t land smoothly, and came to rest below an overhanging cliff, preventing sunlight from reaching its solar panels. Nevertheless, the instruments on board managed to achieve many of their goals and collected a huge quantity of data before the main battery died. In the first few months of 2015, the mission engineers had hoped that the strengthening sunlight as the comet moved closer to the Sun would provide enough power to the solar panels to recharge the batteries and wake Philae up.

In June 2015, a brief contact was re-established with Philae, but since July 2015, no new communications have been possible. Mission controllers are still trying to communicate with the lander, but even if that proves not to be possible, the mission was still a great success so watch out for plenty of science results being announced over the coming months and years.

If you want to find out more about the OU’s involvement with the Rosetta mission, then check out Rosetta in the UK [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Activity 4.2

Exactly how hard do you think it is to land on a comet? Play the BBC’s Rosetta mission: Can you land on a comet? game.

If you want to find out more about the OU’s involvement with the Rosetta mission, then check out Rosetta in the UK.

INS_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus