Philae seen from above

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ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Workforce

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Howdy, outdated good friend: Philae (close to prime proper, in darkness) comes again into view

Europe’s comet lander Philae has been discovered.

The little robotic is seen in new photographs downloaded from the Rosetta probe in orbit across the icy dirt-ball 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

European Area Company (Esa) officers say there isn’t a doubt in regards to the identification – “it is as clear as day”, one informed the BBC.

Philae was dropped on to the comet by Rosetta in 2014 however fell silent 60 hours later when its battery ran flat.

Though it relayed footage and information about its location to Earth, the lander’s precise resting place was a thriller.

It was assumed Philae had bounced right into a darkish ditch on landing – an evaluation now borne out by the most recent footage, which had been acquired from a distance of two.7km from the icy physique.

Wait after comet landing ‘bounce’

The photographs from Rosetta’s high-resolution Osiris digital camera had been downlinked to Earth late on Sunday evening, and have solely simply been processed.

Philae is seen wedged towards a big over-hang. Its 1m-wide field form and legs are unmistakable, nevertheless.

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ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Workforce/NavCam

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Caught in a ditch: The proof is unequivocal

Rosetta had beforehand surveyed this location – dubbed Abydos – with out success.

“Candidate detections” had been made however none had been very convincing.

The distinction as we speak is a closer-in perspective and a change within the seasons on the comet, which implies the hiding place is now higher illuminated.

The invention comes only a few weeks earlier than controllers plan to crash-land Rosetta itself on to the comet to formally finish its mission.

“With solely a month left of the Rosetta mission, we’re so completely satisfied to have lastly imaged Philae, and to see it in such wonderful element,” says Cecilia Tubiana from the Osiris crew.

Though there isn’t a hope of reviving the lander – a few of its gear could have been damaged within the chilly of area – merely understanding its exact resting place will assist scientists make higher sense of the information it returned throughout its three days of operation again in 2014.

“This glorious information signifies that we now have the lacking ‘ground-truth’ data wanted to place Philae’s three days of science into correct context, now that we all know the place that floor really is!” stated Matt Taylor, Esa’s Rosetta undertaking scientist.

Picture copyright
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Workforce

Picture caption

The robotic is on its aspect, with considered one of its three legs pointed upwards

Picture copyright
ESA/ATG medialab

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On its historic touchdown in 2014, Philae didn’t make the sleek landing depicted right here

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and comply with me on Twitter: @BBCAmos