A stunning 3D image generated from data collected by Rosetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS) aboard the European Space Agency’s Philae lander shows what it would look like to fly over the surface of an alien celestial body.In the image, the landing site Agilkia on the comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko can be seen immediately below. In the top right of the field of view, one of the landing gear feet can be seen. To feel the 3D effect, the image must be viewed with red-blue glasses. The stereographic image was generated using two images acquired by ROLIS when Philae was a little less than three km from the comet’s surface. Also Read - Comet landing 'Breakthrough of the Year': Physics World
At the time Philae made its first touchdown on the comet, a short but significant “thud” was heard by Philae’s Cometary Acoustic Surface Sounding Experiment (CASSE). The two-second recording from space is the very first of the contact between a man-made object with a comet upon landing. “The Philae lander came into contact with a soft layer several centimetres thick. Then, just milliseconds later, the feet encountered a hard, perhaps icy layer on the comet,” said Klaus Seidensticker, lead scientist for the CASSE instrument from the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin. Also Read - Rosetta Mission: Philae lander successfully lands on comet
The European Space Agency also released an audio track of the first of the lander’s three touchdowns on the surface of the comet. Comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when our Sun and its planets formed. Rosetta is the first spacecraft to witness at close proximity how a comet changes as it is subjected to the increasing intensity of the Sun’s radiation. Observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in seeding the Earth with water and even life.