We landed twice: Philae comet probe may have bounced after harpoon failure
London — The comet probe Philae may have bounced when it landed, the European Space Agency (ESA) said Wednesday.
It is the first time a soft landing has been achieved on a comet — but there was a hitch.
Comet 67P has a very weak gravity, so anchoring harpoons were designed to shoot into the comet to fix the spacecraft to the surface. They failed to fire and Philae is not firmly secure, ESA says.
Philae lander manager Stephan Ulamec said the probe may have lifted off again and turned.
“So maybe we didn’t land once — we landed twice,” he told a news conference.
“Did we land in a soft sand box or is there something else happening? We don’t fully understand what happened,” he said.
Ulamec said scientists remain upbeat as they are still receiving data from the spacecraft and they hope to learn more Thursday.
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