Philae debris cloud could provide valuable insights for Rosetta

Posted by pt91 at Nov 13, 2014 03:20 PM |
Leicester planetary scientist comments following landing
Philae debris cloud could provide valuable insights for Rosetta

The comet's surface from the view of Philae. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Following the successful landing of Philae on the surface of the comet 67P/C-G, Professor Stan Cowley of our Department of Physics and Astronomy has spoken on what we can now expect from this historic mission.

Adding to his comments earlier this week, Professor Cowley says the debris cloud kicked up from the probe’s landing could hold vital clues about oxygen isotope ratios in the comet water. This could provide vital information on creation of the solar system.

He has praised the landing as a marvellous achievement for humanity, but a mystery still remains as to how Philae is held to the surface of the comet. Professor Cowley suggests that if its harpoons aren’t keeping it in place, the surface material might be light and fluffy and that the probe may be buried several centimetres into the surface.