Scientists to release data from Philae comet lander's experiments
The Associated Press
Published Monday, November 17, 2014 7:59AM EST
BERLIN -- A first evaluation of the data that comet lander Philae sent to the European Space Center before its depleted batteries forced it to go silent will be released Monday, the German aeronautics and space research centre said
The scientists are getting together to discuss their data analyses Monday morning and following that meeting, the centre will publish the scientists' findings, spokesman Andreas Schuetz told The Associated Press.
Since landing Wednesday on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko some 500 million kilometres from Earth, the lander has performed a series of scientific tests and sent reams of data back to Earth.
In addition, the lander was lifted on Friday by about 4 centimetres and rotated about 35 degrees in an effort to pull it out of shadow so that solar panels could recharge the depleted batteries.
ESA's team of scientists have been evaluating the data to find out whether the experiments were successful -- especially a complex operation Friday in which the lander was given commands to drill a 25-centimetre hole into the comet and pull out a sample for analysis.
Material beneath the surface of the comet has remained almost unchanged for 4.5 billion years, so the samples would be a cosmic time capsule that scientists are eager to study.
One of the things scientists are most excited about is the possibility that the mission might help confirm that comets brought the building blocks of life -- organic matter and water -- to Earth.