Rosetta blog: Reminiscing about a week of comet landing

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This time final year saw a finish of an unusual week during ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Hundreds of reporters and reporters had collected to declare an ancestral attempt as on 12 Nov 2014 a Rosetta orbiter deployed a lander Philae on a aspect of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In this blog post, some of a media friends simulate on a events of that conspicuous week and on one dusk in particular.

Late in a dusk on 14 November, dual days after Philae had landed (and bounced) on a comet, 3 social-media eye witnesses assimilated a tiny group of ESA communicators sitting usually outward a idea control room during ESOC. Keeping an eye on Philae as it finished a systematic operations, they tweeted live what could have been a lander’s final hit with Rosetta.

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Steven Young, Emily Lakdawalla and Chris Lintott during ESOC on a night between 14 and 15 Nov 2014. Credit: E. Baldwin

They were Emily Lakdawalla, Chris Lintott and Steven Young, who had been stating during a week for The Planetary Society’s blog, for a BBC’s Sky during Night programme and for a UK’s Astronomy Now repository (and Spaceflight Now website), respectively. One year later, we asked them to join us on a outing down memory lane, piecing together their impressions of that chaotic week and, in particular, of that conspicuous evening.

“I approaching it to be identical to a Huygens landing, that we also attended, and it was!” Emily told us.

“I was expecting doing daily blog entries as good as tweeting all we could. Based on past believe during events like Mars landings, we also approaching to be assisting other members of a media know a scholarship and a credentials behind a mission.”

Chris also had been during ESOC for a Huygens alighting on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005. “That was thrilling, and a possibility to be behind for another square of space story was unequivocally sparkling indeed.”

This time, he came with co-presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock and a film organisation from BBC’s Sky during Night. “We’d been given an hour-long special to be promote on a weekend after a landing, and so while we filmed during ESOC a group behind in London were operative overnight to put a module together.”

Steven and his US-based co-worker Stephen Clark supposing live updates on their websites and amicable media outlets via a week, and accessible video interviews with idea officials.

“Although we live in an epoch of benefaction communications and live-streaming video, there is no surrogate to witnessing story being finished initial hand,” Steven said.

This is generally loyal in light of a startling inlet of a landing, with Philae touching down a tiny hundred metres from a designed location, yet afterwards bouncing regularly and finale adult some-more than a kilometre away, in a totally astonishing place.

The final moments of Philae’s descent, a impress of a touchdown, and successive deposit divided from Agilkia was prisoner by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera. All times in UT onboard booster time. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The final moments of Philae’s descent, a impress of a touchdown, and successive deposit divided from Agilkia was prisoner by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera. All times in UT onboard booster time. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

“It was unequivocally sparkling yet there was also a lot of difficulty about what was unequivocally function approach out there in space and unavoidable swindling theories that things had not left well,” Emily said.

“I and a few other media – including Steven and Chris, as good as Jonathan Amos, Stuart Clark, Eric Hand, Ivan Semeniuk, and Paul Sutherland – pooled a tidbits of information we had any been told that we could be pretty assured about, perplexing to tell a unchanging and loyal story about what was holding place during a comet, about what a engineers knew, and what they didn’t know about Philae’s condition,” she added.

While covering such a singular eventuality live could be unequivocally exciting, risks and pitfalls are also on a menu and a reporters indispensable to be prepared for everything.

“I remember worrying about how we would tell a story of a unsuccessful landing: what was being attempted by a group was so brazen that it would have been a tragedy if a disaster had meant that a whole Rosetta idea was viewed as a failure,” pronounced Chris.

“Of course, in a end, from a reporter’s indicate of perspective things couldn’t have been better. Wonderful systematic results, and a story that kept many of a universe on a corner of a chair for days on end.”

In Steven’s recollection, he did not unequivocally know what to design previously and that, to him, was a best partial of covering a mission.

“It truly was a step into uncharted territory. we joked on a morning of a alighting that we approaching a day would see a initial ancestral alighting on a comet… and a second ancestral alighting on a comet… and a third ancestral alighting on a comet. Turned out to be utterly a good prediction!” pronounced Steven.

In hindsight, it sounds like a comparatively candid story to tell. But being there, perplexing to make clarity of a events as they were maturation and branch them into stories for a rarely perfectionist audience, was something else entirely.

This picture from Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera shows a Philae lander during 10:23 GMT (onboard booster time) on 12 November, roughly dual hours after separation. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

This picture from Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera shows a Philae lander during 10:23 GMT (onboard booster time) on 12 November, roughly dual hours after separation.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

According to Emily, a assembly was meddlesome in “solving a nonplus of what had happened after a initial touchdown” yet their categorical seductiveness was in a images that Rosetta and Philae would send back.

“Images taken by OSIRIS of Philae brazen and floating over a comet, and images taken by Philae of a skirmish and of a alighting site. It’s all about a images; they are what give a assembly a feeling that they are station there on a comet with Philae,” she said.

Chris was unequivocally struck by a ubiquitous public’s lust for knowledge, with many people hold adult in a regretful tour of Rosetta and Philae, yet presumably even some-more extraordinary about a technical and systematic details, seeking questions, before and after a landing, about what had been discovered.

“I consider a idea unequivocally showed that people are meddlesome in both a exciting, regretful stories of spaceflight yet also in a nitty-gritty of a data,” Chris said.

“And of march new images were seized on and sent around a universe as shortly as they appeared. we wish a imaging teams know how many pity what they could meant,” he added.

To Steven, a categorical questions to answer were secure in a mission’s three-decade prolonged history. “Were a years of friendship from a scientists and engineers going to compensate off? It was a tellurian story as many as a scholarship and engineering story. Achieving such a useful idea was inspiring,” he told us.

When we asked about their many abiding memories of that week, their thoughts immediately went to a night when Philae ‘fell asleep’ on a comet.

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Spacecraft operators on avocation during ESOC during a night between 14 and 15 Nov 2014. Credit: S. Young / Astronomy Now

“No question, a categorical memory is staring by a potion during a control room, examination that line on that graph drop, indicating a voltage dropping on Philae’s bus, we think. Knowing we were examination a booster go to sleep, presumably forever,” Emily said.

Chris remembered a demeanour on Andrea Accomazzo’s face when he popped into ESOC on a morning of Saturday 15 November, after many of a reporters had left, and found a integrate of them still filming outward a gates.

“But he happily gave us a bleary-eyed interview, and that for me symbolised how accessible and useful a idea control group and a mission’s scientists had been,” pronounced Chris.

“I also keep meditative about a outing to lander control during DLR on a day after a landing, and a patience with that a scientists negotiated over that instrument would do what during a singular time available,” he added.

But for Chris, too, “the many conspicuous eventuality has to have been sitting outward idea control with Emily and Steve, broadcasting Philae’s hibernation to a world. we remember examination a line on a graph that conspicuous a energy accessible trend ever downwards, and all a time a information flowed…”

Steven’s memories also went behind to that memorable evening.

“Although a alighting did not go as uniformly as planned, Philae still collected many science. On a night of 14/15 Nov as we waited to hear from a lander, a initial wish was that all that scholarship would be returned before a batteries ran low,” he said.

The story of a little lander that could kept members of a open worldwide bending for a whole week, by traditional, online and amicable media. But on that special night, a categorical sources of information were a ESA blog and Twitter accounts, and a 3 social-media eye-witnesses and their live tweets.

“I got a lot of supporters that week,” removed Emily, who had been sexually tweeting in a prior days.

“Because there was so many information drifting around, we worked unequivocally tough to usually twitter contribution and to answer people’s questions and transparent adult misconceptions.”

Chris certified to never carrying been in a center of such a bustling and sharp-witted online conditions like a one that took place between idea control and a Twitter-sphere on that evening.

“There was no approach we could keep adult with a replies that flew past, and Emily’s timeline looked like a container appurtenance as messages whizzed past,” he said.

“I consider that a supporters felt they were there with us, and we wish someone in idea control realised they had a universe of spaceflight fanatics ‘watching’. we still get rather regretful meditative about it a year later.”

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The idea control room during ESOC on a night between 14 and 15 Nov 2014. Credit: S. Young / Astronomy Now

Looking behind on a roller-coaster of events that occurred in those hours, Steven said: “It was a moving time watchful for a vigilance from Philae to be relayed by Rosetta. When a information started streaming opposite a screens of idea control, we willed it to keep going.”

But it was not usually about downlinking a information performed adult until that point. The wish that Philae would one day arise adult was also pushing a operations, and it was essential to leave a lander in a many enlightened position for a months to come.

“Once that jump had been reached and all a scholarship information was on a ground, a hopes changed on to a lander being means to shunt itself out of a untrustworthy mark and for a Sun to recharge a shrinking energy supply,” Steven recalled.

“For a while Philae’s unsafe position was forgotten, yet a vicious existence of a tired batteries became apparent on a screens in a control centre. Battery voltages had hold adult good yet were now plummeting. It was not prolonged before they reached vicious levels and Philae fell silent.”

Clearly, a regretful assign of all those benefaction and concerned was unequivocally high. “Although it felt like a crony had slipped away, it was transparent from a atmosphere in idea control that Philae had finished a pursuit notwithstanding a formidable circumstances,” combined Steven.

Philae's perspective of a cliffs during Abydos – one of a lander's 3 feet can be seen in a foreground. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Philae’s perspective of a cliffs during Abydos – one of a lander’s 3 feet can be seen in a foreground.
Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

However, a reporters – and their audiences – still have lots of questions about a inlet of comets.

“I wish Philae had woken adult and finished a tiny some-more science! we was vehement during a wake-up in June, yet evidently a lander was teasing us!” commented Emily.

Chris reckoned that “it’s apparent we’re usually only during a commencement of bargain what a idea has told us about a comet,” and he is energetically looking brazen to some-more systematic discoveries.

“I’m watchful for a group to locate their exhale and switch from revelation us about what they’ve found to operative out because a comet is a approach it is,” he added.

Emily sounded somewhat some-more gloomy. “I feel like I’ve been teased about what a aspect of a comet is unequivocally like. We know it’s hard, and pebbly, yet we didn’t unequivocally get to learn what it was finished of.”

But she also common some sad meditative with us: “I wish to send another idea to a comet.”

On a other hand, Chris wittily conspicuous how he found out about Philae’s wake-up “with heated annoyance.” Of course, what he meant is that a timing of this unexpected, yet many anticipated, eventuality was unequivocally bad for him and his colleagues during Sky during Night.

“It happened a night before a monthly module went out, and we was stranded in a US. The group scrambled distinctively to re-edit, though.”

Shortly after Philae came quickly behind to life and finished hit with Rosetta, space enthusiasts opposite a universe had another ancestral impulse to declare this summer – a New Horizons examine drifting by Pluto on 14 Jul 2015. Emily, Chris and Steven reported this eventuality from a idea operations centre during a Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, USA.

“Pluto is weirder, some-more colourful, some-more opposite than anything we imagined,” Emily told us. “I consider both Rosetta and New Horizons have shown us that we usually can’t envision what any Solar System universe will demeanour like, vast or small, until we revisit them adult close,” she added.

Chris was there with a Sky during Night team. “I hadn’t realised how opposite a flyby would feel from a landing: since Philae delivered a week or so of drama, New Horizons was an evident success,” he said.

“Both were conspicuous moments in history, though, and it’s been such a payoff to tell a story of these missions.”

After clever picture estimate dwarf world Pluto shows itself in these images performed by Rosetta’s systematic imaging complement OSIRIS on 12 Jul 2015. Left: The unprocessed picture is vaporous by dirt grains in comet 67P’s coma. Middle: Pluto’s credentials of stars as seen from Rosetta. Right: The processed picture shows Pluto as a splendid mark within a blue circle. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta’s perspective of a dwarf world Pluto performed with a systematic imaging complement OSIRIS on 12 Jul 2015. Left: The unprocessed picture is vaporous by dirt grains in comet 67P’s coma. Middle: Pluto’s credentials of stars as seen from Rosetta. Right: The processed picture shows Pluto as a splendid mark within a blue circle. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

For Steven too, a dual practice were utterly different. As he recalls, “It was a good disturb to declare a Pluto flyby from idea control in Maryland and it was good to see so many colleagues from a Philae landing. The dual events were ancestral yet unequivocally opposite to cover as a reporter. Compared to a quick gait of events of a Philae landing, New Horizons was like examination a delayed suit replay, equally sparkling yet stretched over many months.”

But as Emily reminds us, subsequent year will also be a unequivocally sparkling year for heavenly science, with Juno nearing during Jupiter, and Cassini completing a scrutiny of a moons of Saturn and commencement a final concentration on Saturn’s rings.

And of course, there is still one some-more comet “landing” to demeanour brazen to: as summarized in a new post, in Sep 2016, a Rosetta idea will finish with a tranquil impact of a orbiter on a aspect of 67P/C-G.

“I’m looking brazen to a stability annuity of information from Pluto, Ceres, and 67P, and to Rosetta’s final act, brazen ever closer to a comet,” Emily commented.

Chris sees a final alighting as a wise finish to a mission. “I consider a fad around a finish of idea will be utterly something – it’ll be good to assistance remind people of this epic tour we’ve all been on.”

Steve expresses a hopes of many people when he says: “I’m unequivocally many looking brazen to saying 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in excellent fact when Rosetta creates a delayed skirmish towards a comet during a finish of a idea and, while it’s rarely doubtful to tarry a touchdown, wouldn’t it be extraordinary to see some-more images and scholarship from a aspect of a comet?”

Emily Lakdawalla is a geologist, scholarship communicator and disciple for a scrutiny of all of a worlds of a solar system. She blogs during a Planetary Society: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/
You can follow Emily on Twitter: @elakdawalla

Chris Lintott is Professor of Astrophysics and Citizen Science Lead in a Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK. He is also a publisher and presenter of a BBC array The Sky during Night: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk7h
You can follow Chris on Twitter: @chrislintott

Steven Young is a publisher of Astronomy Now, a UK’s longest using monthly astronomy repository (http://astronomynow.com), and of a Spaceflight Now website (http://spaceflightnow.com/).
You can follow Steven on Twitter: @stevenyoungsfn

Source: Rosetta blog