Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The long drop

...From morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star 
Now that's poetry in IMAX. Kind of appropriate for today's long drop:
Rosetta will release Philae at 08:35 GMT/09:35 CET at a distance of 22.5 km from the centre of the comet, landing about seven hours later. The one-way signal travel time between Rosetta and Earth on November is 28 minutes 20 seconds, meaning that confirmation of the landing will arrive at Earth ground stations at around 16:00 GMT/17:00 CET. 
Okay, seven hours doesn't add up to a summer's day and comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko isn't exactly Lemnos, but a seven hour drop's still an epic plummet by anybody's standards.

Mulciber/Hephaestus/Vulcan survived his fall. Whether Philae makes it is still in the lap of the (other) gods at the time of writing, although, unlike Vulcan, she (he? it?) has the benefit of a live webcast...