Comet with a view

Here is the first panoramic ‘postcard’ from the surface of a comet, returned by Rosetta’s lander Philae, which is currently on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko:


First comet panoramic from the CIVA-P imaging system on Philae. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

This unprocessed view, captured by the CIVA-P imaging system on the lander, shows a 360º view around the point of final touchdown. The three feet of Philae’s landing gear can be seen in some of the frames.

Below is the same image, with superimposed a sketch of the Philae lander in the configuration the lander team currently believe it is in.


First comet panoramic from the CIVA-P imaging system on Philae, with an indication of the lander orientation superimposed on top of it. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Confirmation of Philae’s touchdown on the surface of Comet 67P/C–G arrived on Earth at 16:03 GMT/17:03 CET on 12 November.



  • Luca says:

    Sitting on the edge??

  • Baris says:

    Amazing picture! Hold on there buddy, send us more data.

  • Jacob nielsen says:

    Seem a bit dark? Enough for charging battery?

  • Paul Freeman says:

    Beautiful, bewitching and awe inspiring. A ‘giant leap’ for human civilization.

  • Jason Rowberg says:

    Looks pretty good! You know what would really be helpful is for Rosetta to swing by at about 10 KM and take an OSIRIS NAC pic of Agilkia. Maybe we could identify the sites of bounce 1 and 2. Of course, maybe we could get all that from ROLIS.

  • Space says:

    What about sun light charging batteries? Stunning images! What is that jet on upper right? Those two brighter spots under Philae and little left (from our point of view). Brighter than the surroundings at least.

  • Francisco says:

    A picture for History.

  • Erik W Edeen says:

    Rough surface, looks like a piece of coal, fractures , shadows, smooth faces, pebbles and fine dust like particles, very interesting quite a conglomeration. Also looks like a chunk of lava flow.

    • Erik W Edeen says:

      Awaiting more photos and instrument results.

    • Joe Moss says:

      Congrats ESA, Europe is surely proud of you. Good to see exciting science like this. Looking forward to the US-sponsored Pluto/Kuiper belt flyby mission in 2015. China it’s your turn.

  • mim says:

    Is the Philae landed some how vertically or not completely on the ground?
    The upper-right frame looks like it’s looking directly at the sky.
    Also has it used it’s thrusters so far?
    is it enough stable to use its driller?

    Thx in advance, it’s an amazing adventure!

    • Guy says:

      Yes, they said it had one leg “up in the air” as it were, so it seems it’s tipped on its side. They also said they couldn’t use the drill in its current orientation. They may be able to activate various mechanical parts to adjust orientation but don’t want to do that until they know more about its position and what effect that might have, let alone firing thrusters. My guess is they will attempt (power permitting) to right the lander using the flywheel and/or actuating legs once they have a bit more data, because a surface sample is paramount. As for light reception, it less that they were hoping for and originally calculating with.

  • mim says:

    ah! and does it receive enough sun light at its current position?

  • Peter says:

    Is Philae laying on it’s side?

  • Warren Smiley says:

    Way to go team. Kudos to all the team members on an historic step that makes us all proud.

  • Kjell H Martinsen says:

    Interesting image. Any chance the view and details of the surroundings will increase with better light conditions, or is the lander “caught” inside a crater or similar?

  • Carlo says:

    La prima cartolina da una cometa è tutta per te :))

  • Martin Don ounstead says:

    So who will get the mining rights

  • Voyager says:

    First the thrusters, then the harpoons, What a pity, such a wonderful mission scuppered by the fault ridden lander.

    • THOMAS says:

      @ Voyager “… a wonderful mission scuppered by the fault ridden lander”

      Your comment is abject.

      As a “voyager” down here on Earth, you have presumably become so blasé about all forms of travel that you can no longer appreciate the incredible results already achieved by the Philae part of the mission, in a totally alien environment and in the face of almost insurmountable difficulties.

      I can only wish you “Bon voyage” in all your future travels.

      Above all, don’t ever move out of your comfort zone.

      • Jay Sadler says:

        I am with Thomas about the comment left by “Voyager.” I have followed rocket science since before Sputnik and remember when our skies were really dark at night. It takes a bit to impress me but I’m in awe. Congratulations to the engineering and the operations staff at ESA for a terrific historic landing. This goes down right alongside the Lunar landings and the Mars robotic operations in my book. And a tip for the USA educators and their STEM programs: this engineering feat will do more to inspire youth to study science, technology, engineering ,and mathematics than all the costly education programs in the world… if the young people are exposed to it!

      • Voyager says:

        Perhaps my comment has been misunderstood.
        In no way was I belittling the achievements of this fantastic mission. I was just expressing frustration that the most exciting part of the mission to sample and analyse the physical makeup of the comet has been derailed, atleast for now, by the failure of the harpoons and thrusters. I do hope they come up with some ingenious solution to salvage this unfortunate situation.

  • Gilles Préfontaine says:

    Have a good day,

    It look like a Jigsaw puzzle

    Look like FRAGILE…
    Something hurt this and it will blow away

    Perfect landing,, Nothing been hurt, and fely all apart…

    It’s an achievement for humanity

    Gilles Préfontaine

  • It would be helpful if the lander body axes were shown relative to the local terrain as well as the comet center of mass.

  • seb says:

    well done, keep on posting data please

  • Harold Hensel says:


  • Steve Webb says:

    Congratulations, ESA. What an achievement!

    Much more difficult than landing on the Moon, I’d believe. The “swing-by” method was very ingenious.

    Best to you.

  • Chris Peters says:

    To all involved.Today you have entered a new era in history and science.Who knows what will be learned from this earth shaking feat?

  • W. Barnes says:

    The thing I love about scientists is that they seem to get equally excited when some theory or another (including their own) gets either proven or dis-proven. And, as in the case of the ESA’s astonishing accomplishments with the Rosetta mission, they lavish praise on their counterparts for their successes. Some of the NASA folks seem positively giddy about Philea! You gotta love it. Congratulations to all involved. Patiently (HA!) awaiting more data.

  • W. Barnes says:

    PhilAE, that is. Sometimes us ‘fans” can get very excited too!

  • Richard says:

    I have two ideas to save the situation:
    (1) When there is some kind of comet material in the direction of the floor of the lander (to the left in this mosaic) and when this is within reach of the harpoons, you could fire one harpoon (just one – you need the other one) and reel it in slowly.

    With a bit of a luck, Philae will stand up.
    Then you can eventually fire the second harpoon to lock philae in place – but be careful and calculate the side effects before trying this.

    (2) You could try the cold gas system for the same purpose. Perhaps something got stuck during the ten years in space and it has now been shaken free during the touch down manoevers.

    But be really careful with these ideas. It might get worse when Philae overturns and comes to rest with the bottom up. Calculate it carefully and make it in steps when possible.

    • Richard says:

      Just one more thing:
      Even when it would only be possible to pull Philae with the harpoons to a “wall” and not flat to the “ground”, you almost have won and you could drill that wall!

      Do your analysis systems need Philae to stand “upright”? (under low gravity of course and relative to the local gravity vector). Perhaps you could get Philae to a position which is “upright enough” to do analysis of the drilled material when the above step works out.

  • Richard says:

    but be careful and make sure you get more sunlight on the solar panels than now when Pilae is standing upright in that place.

  • Gerald Hipp says:

    The imprinted position of the lander is a little bit wrong (see landing-foot left above and antenna right down).
    2 possibilities:
    1) photos are not positioned on right place and/or distance,
    2) landing-feet and antenna are bended (if generally possible).
    Bad in both cases but top performance from ESA-team!
    Congratulations Gerald

  • Roaming Philosopher says:

    A more operational question would be can Philae perform the planned science investigations? Can it drill without capsizing? Can it position its solar arrays to sufficiently capture the sunlight needed for battery recharge? And so on.

  • Gerald Hipp says:

    There is something wrong with the imprinted lander (see landing-foot left above and antenna right down).
    2 Possibilities:
    1) photos are in wrong angle and/or wrong distance,
    2) landing-feet are bended (if generally possible).
    Bad in both cases but top-performance from ESA-Team.
    Congratulations! Gerald

  • Leonardo Della Pietra says:

    Is site J Agilkia?
    With overall 3 comet landings we need 2 more names!

    • Lorand Lukacs says:

      Site J is Agilkia, and the final site near the planned site will probably also be called Agilkia in spite the two previous jumps, just like in three jump sport. The end result counts, I think.

  • francisco camargo says:

    Fantástico…o macaco nu chega aos cometas….

  • Jon Goldstein says:

    When will they know if the batteries are recharging?

  • francisco camargo says:

    fantastic… the naked ape arrives at comets…

  • Just amazing
    I suppose this view will change with another solar angle. More details will become visible.
    I wonder if the white dot at the right side of the right foot will disappear
    I am not qualified but I believe this could be real ice

    • THOMAS says:

      @Pierre Verschueren

      It’s not ice. (Rosetta mission scientists have by now acquired more than enough information about the comet environment to rule this out completely).

      It is, on the contrary, more likely to be the focus of relative heat, in the shape of an electric discharge event.

  • Philippe says:

    any plan (if possible) to try to have philae attempting a small “jump” or “hop” to escape from shadow, using any device (driller, landing pod, eject something, …), only a small qty of energy would be needed for proper reaction effect?

  • Eli says:

    Some of the parts really look like faces, I’m sure they will end up giving those features the names of Egyptian gods & stuff…

  • LP says:

    Maybe Kingston Lacy is adequate after all…

  • Luc Faget says:

    Congratulation!!! A great step, and this is not over. Please keep on collecting all that scientific data and come back to share with us.

  • TRS says:


  • TRS says:

    Actually, the designer of the landing gear included an emergency hop facility- yes it can do little springy jumpsl so to me, it seems likely that once the several experiments in situ are completed, a hop will be attempted to get into a sunnier position. A sunnier position is important as the battry live is only c60 hours, and teh current 1.5 of sunshine, compared to the expected 7 may not be enough to power the more engery demanding experiments. Remember that due to the low gravity, Philae only weights a very very tiny amount, so it does not take much of a push to do a big jump. For example, the first bounce on landing, saw philae spacebourn for nearly two hours ! There is lots of exitement to come, I am sure.

  • TRS says:

    Batteries are recharging apparently, but veyr slowly indeed due to the very short amount of time that sunlight reaches this very “sheltered” position.

  • Robert Stafi says:

    Astonishing! Don’t be afraid Philae, the sun will come!
    Waiting for more news and again, Congrats to all involved!

  • Lorand Lukacs says:

    Recharging time was calculated to 6 hours, but now there is only 1.5 hours. Instead of using 1-2 days, now they need maybe a week. Depends upon the exposed solar panel are to sunlight as part of the lander is in a shadowy place.
    Time will show.
    Wish them good luck and patience.

  • Doug Barber says:

    As a citizen of the USA, born in 1954, I have seen many astonishing accomplishments in space exploration. Not one was as technically difficult as this ESA achievement. And now it ennobles all humankind. Thank you!

  • Peter Taylor says:

    The images and data from Philae have got everyone talking and pondering. From is it on its side to is it on a ledge.
    This is making people think and follow the mission, which is no bad thing!
    Love checking the new images out, myself!

  • Frank Woodcock says:

    Looks like debris from an ancient galactic collision possibly with an established water bearing planet. Things were pretty chaotic way back then.

  • Antonio says:

    Congratulations to all who made this scientifical mission posible. A huge step forward in space exploration has been made. I can hardly believe my eyes when watching the comet images in my computer. Just incredible!

  • Steve says:

    Congratulations to the hardworking and brilliant team at the ESA. This is a great moment in the history of space exploration.

    I can’t wait to read about the scientific discoveries that are sure to follow.

  • Awesome experiment 🙂 It may have certain new elements that we don’t know.

    Can we do it for all comets coming near to us – may be 1 permanent instrument for each comet and allow it flow with the comet for centuries to collect more information about its journey.

    Thanks for sharing .

    • logan says:

      Hi Debanjan. This is a very interesting concept. It could also allow them to be tracked.

  • DavidMac says:

    I wonder if the sheltered position might extend the useful lifetime of the lander. As it will receive only about a quarter of planned hours of sunlight per day, as the comet approaches the sun maybe its average temperature will stay low enough to avoid its demise, yet it could obtain enough solar generation to keep operating. Let’s see . .

  • This is absolutely fascinating. I am really impressed with the amount of preparation that went into this. I really hope we start getting enough solar to charge up the batteries.

    Will the batteries keep charging intermittently and restoring it’s photographing ability or will it drain to a point beyond it’s ability to restore itself. Does that make sense?

  • Dilok says:

    Breathtaking accomplishment! Regarding the battery energy requirements of the lander
    1. Might it be possible to put the lander into hibernation until the comet is closer to the sun, so that the light will be brighter and the hour of light the lander does receive per rotation will be sufficient to recharge the batteries?
    2. Rosetta must have an enormously powerful radio transmitter; is there any possibility of directing its beam at the lander to provide the lander with energy through radio wave transmission?

  • xind says:

    so expénsive module and so terrible quality pictures?!? no live stream..

    • Luca says:

      mhhh I think they had problems with internet provider contract in deep space…. Too expensive…

  • Henk says:

    Very exciting location. Actually seems far more interesting than where it should have landed. Which looked like a part of the moons surface. Hope it stays in this cool place and the mission can recharge and create lots of science data.

    Although not recharge as fast it might have 1 other big advantage. It might not heat up as much either. Allowing it to survive way beyond the original March date. Perhaps all the way till the end of 2015 as it swings by the sun. You never know how things turn into an advantage like that.

    Also Kudo’s to the team that had to point the lander. It landed (at first) exactly where it should have landed. A real 10 in 10. And after 10 years in space and with such a strange turning comet that is a real an extreme achievement. Perhaps a bit of a shame for them that the harpoons did not fire but this might end up being better place in the long run. Waiting for more exciting images of Philae and Rosetta! Keep up the amazing work guys.

  • wasserkäfer314 says:

    My theory for large hopper of Philae:
    Assumption: The first landing site still has a thick layer of dust.
    Under the layer the temperature is balanced, cold. The legs of Philae and the upper layer of dust are warmer in the sun. The legs of Philae press this heat in the under layer and heat them. There, frozen gases evaporate and Philae could repel. Was the dust layer is very thick, the process may have been so slow that the harpoons were not triggered.

  • Jacob nielsen says:

    To do list:
    1 Philae’s location
    2 Osiris nac of all 3 impact sites
    3 Bob the Builder and a forklift
    4 She is called ‘Sumsy’

  • Philae Space technology is ten years old.
    Too much has been achieved!

    • Guillermo says:

      Why has not been used nuclear battery as usual in NASA planetary missions?

  • Justintime says:

    …….silence…Rosetta speaking

  • dagw says:

    Question: In the wall picture you can see a wire or similar running from the lander to the wall. It looks like it’s bent around a piece in the wall. Is this a wire from one of the harpoons ? Why no information about this ?

    • dagw says:

      I have tried to get an answer to this question in several places, but without success. Strange, to say the least. 🙁

    • dagw says:

      Ok, maybe it’s not a wire, just on of the antennas pointing towards or touches the wall/Cliff.
      ( Guessing on my own here … still no reponse … but i fully understand if you more important stuff to do. )
      Good luck anyhow. This is a fantastic success for ESA and all involved. We spectators are so happy to watch ! Giva us more please !

  • dagw says:

    Question: Is the resolution of the Rosetta cameras sufficent to be able to idenify the lander on the comet Surface ?

  • mk says:

    Hey people! 90% of the questions asked here are answered in the 13/11/2014 media briefing. There is a link to the video in the blog main page. Watch it! It’s very interesting!

  • Cometstalker says:

    The only and essential thing to wait for by now is when the Lander is found and the situation is analyzed to the full. The next step is then to make a proper desission to correct this situation. There are a lot of options on the scene like getting dormant for shorter periods to save juce for some important experiments and to decide if stay or jump. To my understanding it is possible to use the landing gear to jump not only upwards but also use the flywheel in combination with tilt and turn movements to create some horizontal momentum and make a parable jump in a planned direction. The only thing is that as for now there is no clue where to go due to lack of information. But once the fly dynamics and nav team has what they need to do a proper planning I’m sure they will do the maneuvers successfully as they always do. I wish someone would have planned to put a flashing beacon on the lander. Possibly some triangulation with help from the two radars at Philaes and Rosetta can narrow the optical search area. The best tool i know to do optical recognition is what is called IMAGE CORRELATION and this can be used to find submarine periscopes from very large distance in an instant. Please ESA get someone on board that know something about image correlation processing as this will fore sure work perfect and can be done successfully. needed is one image of the lander and another from the suspected area. Those printed images are then iluminated by coherent light (LASER) and each image is undergoing a Fourier transform with one objective (lens) each then those two beams are combined with a beam combiner. The combined beam then gets analyzed with help of a third objective and at an instance the correlation result shines out brightly almost magically. I did those experiments over 40 years ago and this kind of gadgets are nowadays a lot more sophisticated and used a lot, for example to find the tiny 2D barcode on a large box with help of the 3 concentric rings in its center. This was my invention created 25 years ago at SAAB Missiles in a short meeting. I hope someone at ESA will use this spoiler. If not already has been done. Good success.

  • davravidumn says:

    A truly marvelous achievement! With technological advances, we’re used to saying that “the world has gotten smaller.” Now it appears that the universe itself (or at least the solar system) is “getting smaller”!

  • jhs says:

    It is not known exactly where philae finally settled down. There guesses from magnetic field data.

    What about simple mechanics: the three feet of the landing gear touched down at different times. This can be converted into length using the speed of the lander relative to the comet. These three coordinates give the orientation of the surface reltive to lander movement at the first touchdown site. Assuming a rebounce like light on a mirror one gets the direction of the first jump …
    (Of course this can be done with more accuracy when analysing all the available mechanical data of the bounce)

  • Stefaan says:

    What about a 3th jump? Using some mechanics to jump by purpose. With a little bit luck Philae will end up on a better location.

  • Voyager says:

    Wish they could have included superbright LED strobe lights on the lander. It would have made it easier for Rosetta to find the lander and determine it’s orientation.

  • logan says:

    Let’s assume that brightness is from the neck, just by probability. Could Philae just hanging next to the cliff?

    • logan says:

      High drain instruments to hibernation. Low power mode instruments keep working once every 9 days.

    • logan says:

      Can insolation levels and times be feeded into the 3D model?

  • logan says:

    Is it possible to reprogram as to make it wake up once every 9 days?

    • logan says:

      Is it possible to reprogram as to shut down after -say- 40min?

    • logan says:

      Does ‘everything’ has to be warmed before ‘wake-up’?

    • logan says:

      Can CPU’s significantly slow down? Third the speed could bring power requirement to 1/9.

    • logan says:

      Is it possible to keep just the batteries warm enough as to keep the charging?

    • logan says:

      Recapitulating my rambles: CPU’s BIOS’s reprogrammed to go into Low Power indefinitely. Boot and Shut-down to auto mode. 8 of 9 comet days just charge mode. 1 of 9 days warming up low power instruments. Colect data. Shutdown. Next 9th day used to Send data.

  • Anton says:

    Amazing navigation!
    The very accurate navigation of Philae brings me to an insane idea: Would it make sense to navigate Rosetta itself to a very soft landing position in order to get some closeer images? Maybe in a later stage when the mission is getting to its final phase…

  • Voyager says:

    Even if sunlight eventually reaches the solar panels , at change of season, will the batteries be able to recharge after draining completely? More to the point is Philae designed to boot up from cold start?

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