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2014: The Year We Landed on a Comet

Philae on the comet

Air Date: 11/25/2014
Run Time: 28:50

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  • Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor, European Space Agency Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration

Topics: Rosetta and Philae, Space Policy, comets, Venus Express, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Planetary Radio, Venus, Planetary Society Political Advocacy, Bill Nye

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Not just landed. Orbited, too. European Space Agency Senior Science Advisor Mark McCaughrean helps us celebrate the Rosetta orbiter and the Philae lander. Emily Lakdawalla prepares for the end of another spectacular ESA mission: Venus Express. Casey Dreier fills in for Bill Nye with news of two upcoming space events in Washington D.C. Another listener will win observing time from iTelescope on this week’s What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan.

OSIRIS sees Philae multiple times during landing

ESA / Rosetta / DLR / MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / SSO / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA

OSIRIS sees Philae multiple times during landing
The sharp-eyed OSIRIS camera on the Rosetta orbiter snapped numerous images of Philae as it descended toward its touchdown on the comet on November 12 at 15:34 UTC. Images documented the spacecraft rotating, and also saw evidence of the lander's touchdown on the comet surface. One final image, captured 9 minutes after the landing, sees the spacecraft bright against the shadowed surface, heading to the east on its first bounce.

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Trivia Contest

This week's prize is another account loaded with 200 points (value of $200 US) for remotely-operated observing on the worldwide network of instruments.

This week's question:

What are the TWO active region numbers assigned to the giant sunspot that was visible during the most recent partial solar eclipse. The second number was assigned when the region reappeared as the Sun rotated.

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Tuesday, December 2, at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the approximate mass of the Philae lander? Hint: It’s more than an ant.


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

When did the French Guiana Space Centre become operational?


The French Guiana Space Center became operational in 1968.


No trivia contest spoilers please!

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