Sunday, June 14, 2015

Waking up of Comet Lander Philae

It is a great day for the European project named Rosetta Stone, which had aimed at putting instrumentation on the surface of a comet. The project’s lander had fallen into a place on the Comet where there was not enough sunlight and so its batteries soon ran out of charge. The comet (named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) was meanwhile moving closer to the Sun. The lander has now come back to life months after it fell into a “coma”. Luckily it woke up just in time for an interesting phase. If all goes well, it could keep working until August 13, 2015 when the Comet will reach its nearest point to the Sun – it will then be 186 million Kilometres from the Sun. This will be farther than the earth, which is about 150 million KMs from the Sun. Some of the material from the comet will evaporate as it warms up as it reaches the Sun and a cometary tail will form. The Comet is currently in the constellation of Aries, but don’t grab your binoculars. It is too faint to be seen with binoculars.
There is an exciting story of how scientists located the current site of Philae. Visit

In the middle of all this excitement, we should not forget an achievement of Japanese scientists in September 2005, when their unmanned spacecraft physically landed on an asteroid and brought back samples for study! Visit
There is a useful set of Frequently Asked Questions and answers about the Rosetta Stone project at

You may wish to read about the original Rosetta Stone which had suddenly opened up for reading a Chapter of human history. Visit
The fact that a common text was written in three different scripts on this stone tablet made it possible for scholars to decode ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. The text had been written in 196 B. C. This shows the power of parallel corpuses!

1 comment:

Srinivasan Ramani said...


Srinivasan Ramani