The Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, one of the partners in the MiARD project, have just released this rendering of their digital terrain model of the Agilkia area of the comet where the Philae lander first touched down. The name Agilkia was selected by the European Space Agency from suggestions by the public, and is taken from the name of an island in the Nile river in Egypt.
The MiARD project has made a great deal of progress in refining the so-called ‘shape’ model of the comet, which is exactly what it sounds like – a mathematical representation of the shape of the comet, derived from photographs taken by the ROSETTA orbiter, together with navigational information. The example below shows the remarkable resolution now achieved.
NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE AGILKIA LANDING SITE
This picture shows a rendered view of a high-resolution local digital terrain
model of the region in Ma’at around the Agilkia landing site, at which Philae
touched down the surface of the comet for the first time on Nov 12, 2014 at
The digital terrain model has been created in the frame of the MiARD project
with the “Multi-resolution Photoclinometry by Deformation” (MPCD) method
developed at Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (CNRS, Aix-Marseille
University, France) using stereophotogrammetric data produced at the
German Aerospace Center (DLR, Berlin, Germany).
This view mimics the exact observing conditions of an image acquired by the
Narrow-Angle Camera onboard Rosetta on Nov 12, 2014 at 16:18 UTC, just after
the Philae touchdown. This image was acquired from a distance of about 15 km
above the surface, corresponding to a resolution of about 30 cm/pixel on
the image. The upper panel presents a global view of the DTM while the lower
panel is a zoom on the Agilkia landing site showing the footprints created by
Philae at the surface of the comet.
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Just a month before the end of the Rosetta mission, and a few weeks after all attempts to communicate with th elander were finally given up, the Rosetta orbiter has acquired images that clearly show the lander on the comet. This is possible because the orbiter is now much closer to the comet (on a riskier trajectory) than was the case during earlier phases of the mission. The images that show the lander were acquired from a distance of just 2.7 km, and have a resolution of 5 cm per pixel. As expected, the lander was located in a crack in the Abydos area (on the smaller of the two lobes of the comet).
Copyright ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
See also the ESA announcement.
At 11am this morning (CEST) the parts of the Rosetta spacecraft that communicate with the Philae lander, perhaps the best known part of the Rosetta mission, were turned off in order to save power in the final mission phase. Nothing has been heard from the lander since July 2015, but the communications gear on the Rosetta orbiter was nonetheless left powered up until now in the hope of receiving a signal.