RIP Philae

Star of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission, lander Philae faced Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with stoic determination. November 12, 2014 dawned with realization of Rosetta’s 10 year, 6 billion kilometer journey to travel in unison with 67P. A day defined by Rosetta’s singular purpose – deploy lander Philae to the surface of comet 67P. Oh Philae, how could you anticipate a faulty thruster, or fathom a legacy defined by malfunctioning harpoons?

Undaunted by cataclysmic failure of comet securing tethers, Philae capped seven hold your breath hours of descent with a kilometer high bounce. Stay the course determination erupted from the tenacious little lander. Rosetta Mission ordered a landing, Philae gave them one.

A kilometer off course, hopelessly sheltered from energizing solar panel sunlight, Philae faced mortality with honor and purpose. Born 510 million kilometers from Earth, Philae lived 64 hours. From deployment to failure of primary batteries, Philae managed to complete 80% of mission objectives. Detailed surface images, samples of organic compounds, environment and surface properties of Comet 67P.

The evening of November 14-15, 2014 Philae drifted into deep sleep. Not ready to forsake the feisty lander, optimism waited for perihelion (closest orbit of 67P to the Sun ) on August 13, 2015. Approaching perihelion, between June 13-July 9, 2015 Philae made 7 valiant attempts to transmit data.

Silent since July 2015, coupled with uncertainty of Philae’s location in light of dynamic changes in 67P’s surface, and consensus solar panels are likely covered in space dust – led to signing Philae death certificate on February 12, 2016, announcing no further attempts to contact Philae.

Rosetta’s little lander that could is gone, but not forgotten. RIP Philae, you served humanity beyond wildest expectation.

This series of images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was captured by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 12 August 2015, just a few hours before the comet reached the closest point to the Sun along its 6.5-year orbit, or perihelion. The images were taken from a distance of about 330 km from the comet. The comet's activity, at its peak intensity around perihelion and in the weeks that follow, is clearly visible in these spectacular images. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Philae's bounce across the surface of its comet, as captured by the Rosetta mothership. Image via ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Philae’s bounce across the surface of its comet, as captured by the Rosetta mothership. Image via ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

13 thoughts on “RIP Philae

      • Thanks. I’ve gone private on my site. Seems posting a poem on my public blog is akin to ‘publishing’ to mag editors and so in an effort to get published legit I had to weigh having a few people read my poems and saying they ‘Like’ [d] them over a wider audience. I had to stop following so many people because it became too much. It’s funny when you don’t follow someone they stop reading your work–there’s an article for you perhaps–apropos for your site name–smiles. In the long run it doesn’t really matter anyway, publishing I mean–editors still don’t think my work as what they can use so I figure I am either behind or ahead of some literary curve–god help the person that has to deal with my stuff after I’m gone (laughs). Smiles…>KB

      • In two minds about the worthwhile nature of publishing on a blog, though I had a lot of success with the TipsyLit prompts. My fiction was going like a train on Readwave before the site got pulled. :/ I’m back on Wattpad now, but rebuilding my reader base is tough

      • The big problem in building a reader base is the quasi quid pro quo about following people. I found that though I had lots of followers–still do for all I know–the only ones who were really reading my work were those I also followed which became time consuming to keep up with. Yes, there are many interesting sites out there but at some point as a working writer you have to decide how much time you want to take away from doing your own work. I have one book I self published through Amazon Create Space and sold very few of them despite how many people said they ‘liked’ my work and commented. Of course my site was set up with a set program of different things on different days. I found it just became oppressive time-wise. I only follow 10 or 12 people right now and even those I am cutting back on soon. I don’t do any social networking with the exception of my site and now that it is private and only open to requests to join or invitation I have more time to myself. Of course even getting published legit is no guarantee anymore people will read my work. In fact my feeling is you have to be in the ‘MFA Club’ to get published–it’s all very nepotistic. So it goes. Smiles…>KB

      • I am totally finished with social networks–the bane of privacy, the mask of a society that has become flimsy in its commitment of being involved with the arts on a more personal basis. >KB

      • I think you’re being overly negative here. Readwave was not a ‘networking’ site. It was a place for people such as me to put out fiction. That was why I used it. It did me proud.

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