Although the European Space Agency is presently celebrating the successful landing of the Rosetta’s Philae on the comet, they are still worried about a lot of things which are either uncertain or unknown as the Philae navigates comet, and they have also expressed concerns about the Philae’s battery running down within a day or two.
But beyond this, it is celebration galore at the ESA’s main control room following the successful deployment of the first unmanned spacecraft to comet. The probe land on comet’s icy, dusty, and rough terrain after nearly 10 years and 4 billion miles to get to its final destination; and according to scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the spacecraft will have worked for 2-3 days in conducting its primary mission before its battery starts to run out.
But then even if its battery runs out after an extended scientific exploration, scientists believe the lander should use the power of the sun to charge its second solar-rechargeable battery. “Ideally then the batteries will get recharged and maybe a couple of weeks or a week from now, we’ll get to operate the lander for another day. Then after a couple of weeks, we’ll get to operate the lander for another day. All of this is unknown.” However, its ability to fully charge its solar-powered second battery depends on whether dust films have not covered its solar panels, and whether it has not landed in a sun-deprived area.
Although NASA had earlier landed a space probe on asteroid, landing the Philae on comet is considered much more challenging because of the mercurial nature of constant bursts of gases and dusts in the face of the terrible terrain which could destroy any spacecraft. But then, the primary aim of the Philae is to help researchers understand how the universe began and how it has evolved over time.
According to Matt Taylor, the ESA Rosetta project scientist, “today’s successful landing is undoubtedly the cherry on the icing of a (2.5-mile-wide) cake, but we’re also looking further ahead and onto the next stage of this ground-breaking mission, as we continue to follow the comet around the sun for 13 months, watching as its activity changes and its surface evolves.”
According to Hofstadter, the team feels good that they can gain insight into how gases heat up and how coma and jets emanate from the nucleus, and it is expected that this will really help the NASA and ESA researchers among other collaborators to fully understand the dynamics of comet and how it impacts on life on earth.