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Monday, September 15, 2014

Rosetta/Philae Lander Animation

Philae Rosetta
Philae, the Rosetta lander

This is a news report which includes some animation. That is a key area of growth for animation these days, and it is not the easiest thing to do. That also is a developing trend in animated feature films as well, though fully animated films remain the dominant type. Animations really need to be informative when included in news shows or they are just annoying and a turn-off. This is a pretty good attempt, though not the best on the subject. ESA can come up with some really slick animations with catchy background music, and compared to their previous efforts, this attempt is kind of weak.

Rosetta blasted off from Earth more than 10 years ago, and many folks even in the space community completely lost track of it. The European Space Agency (the ESA) kept a low profile for most of those years regarding Rosetta, and, truth be told, there wasn't much of interest to say about it other than it was, well, on course and moving towards is objective.

The ESA Rosetta was launched on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket and did various things of minor interest after that, such as a flyby of Mars and of some asteroids. Not to diminish what it has done - but by now, flybys of Mars are old hat. The most significant thing it has done is reach its objective, a comet, on 6 August 201

The comet is 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Rosetta now is in orbit only 30 km (19 mi) above the comet's surface. The ESA examined several potential landing sites for the lander, Philae, and finally announced its choice on 15 September 2014. The planned landing date is 11 November.

It's a pretty big deal. There are only a handful of celestial objects upon which Earth probes have made soft landings, such as the Moon, Mars, and... The ESA will land accomplish its mission with the billion Euro Rosetta probe by dropping its 100kg robotic lander, Philae, onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on or about 11 November. The published goal is to learn about the origins of the earth, though that seems a bit fanciful. Better to just focus on learning about the origins of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and see where that might lead in future expeditions.

You can't compare this to a Moon or Mars landing because of the lack of significant gravity. However, it is still pretty cool, and you never know what you might learn from a rock that has been there since the beginning of the Solar System.


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