Gigglebit: Remembering Rosetta’s mission milestones with an adorable animation

17 Feb 2015

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Still from 'Preparing for #CometLanding' by European Space Agency, ESA on YouTube

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Gigglebit is Siliconrepublic’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, to help start your day on a lighter note.

Today, we remind you of a time before humankind had successfully managed to land a probe on a comet and the magic and anticipation that preceded this great feat.

In early November 2014, the Rosetta satellite and Philae lander were still preparing for the probe’s monumental landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. In this short animation from the European Space Agency – which is available in five different languages – we see Rosetta and Philae waking up after their 10-year slumber in space, and doing all the analysis and sampling necessary to plot Philae’s landing.

The cute cartoon combines genuine photographs of Comet 67P with adorable animated characters. Who would have thought anthropomorphising spacecraft could be so charming?

Since this video, Philae successfully completed its landing on Comet 67P, but the mission ran into difficulty as the exact spot where the probe wound up doesn’t receive enough light to charge its solar panels and contact was lost on 15 November.

On the bright side (pun intended), Comet 67P is moving closer to the sun and it is hoped that, by August 2015, Philae will receive enough solar energy to be reawakened. And, maybe then, we’ll get a sequel to this wonderful story.

The mission’s analysis continues regardless, though, and Rosetta completed its closest approach to Comet 67P on Valentine’s Day, beaming back a new collection of lovely images captured from just 9km away.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com