Astronomy, Media, Pythagorean Astronomy

Pythagorean Astronomy: Adventures of Philae

On 12th November 2014, the Philae lander separated from its mothership, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, and made history by making the first ever soft landing on a comet. It wasn’t quite as soft as hoped, with Philae experiencing more than its fair share of ups and downs, but it provided an nerve-wracking few days for those of us watching from afar.

It must have been far worse in the lander control room, with the teams struggling to get as much science as possible out of the lander. One of the scientific instruments on board was the UK-led Ptolemy instrument – essentially a miniaturised chemistry-lab. I spoke to Ptolemy team member Dr Geraint Morgan, from the Open University, about Philae’s adventures, the science of Ptolemy, and the possible future of the mission.

Originally broadcast (in edited form) on 27th November 2014 as part of the latest episode of Pythagoras’ Trousers on Radio Cardiff.

You can also watch a summary of the Philae landing by UK Astro Nut (aka Matt Allen, post-graduate student here in the School of Physics and Astronomy).