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The story behind finding Philae

28 Sep 2016, 15:19 UTC
The story behind finding Philae ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
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On 5 September 2016 one of the most frequently asked questions among Rosetta mission fans – “Where is Philae?” – was finally answered: the definitive image had been taken just a few days earlier that proved without a shadow of a doubt the location of Rosetta’s lander on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Of course, it wasn’t a chance finding: the clues had been there since Philae bounced out of sight on that thrilling day in November 2014, but it took time and patience – and just a little bit of luck – to finally capture the winning shot. ESA’s Laurence O’Rourke, who led the search campaign in recent months, tells the story of how we found Philae.
"Welcome to a comet" – Philae's view of Abydos. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
Playing detective to seek out Philae’s hiding place took more than just viewing Rosetta’s images that had been taken from orbit – it required following many lines of investigation, and the collaboration of many different teams. This included radar data from the CONSERT experiment on both the orbiter and the lander, which was used to help triangulate Philae’s location to the general area; ground-truth images taken by Philae’s CIVA camera to ...

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