Sunday 30 November 2014

Philae: One on One

Various scientists have shared with me their enthusiasm for their work and the Rosetta Mission. The years of planning, testing, and building each component and then "at last" flying it on Tuesday March 2, 2004. But then the wait. "Are we nearly there?" "Is it Christmas?" 20 years is a long time for scientists, too. The following are pictures I took in Göttingen at the MPI for Solarsystem Research. Philae on the ground has all the instrumentation that Philae in 67P has. I will only introduce the instruments as they produce science or are mentioned in questions and answers. Now I will show the legs of the lander.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Sudbury Impact basin caused by a comet

Comets are becoming more complex the more we get to know them. And now Canada/Sudbury Ontario claims one hit just 1,849.5 million years ago, just circa 100km from where I am "astronomer in residence" for the past 4 years. I wipe the sweat from my brow!Sudbury impact basin

"The findings settle ..." - well, they do not. And science does not work quite that way - rather in a sentence
above: "... was likely formed by an enormous comet  ... suggested ... " is a little better.

We should also bear in mind that while Philae and Rosetta will relay to us much more detail about comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko than we had previously known, it is detail about ONE comet and we have much to learn about how this fits into the general picture of our solar system. We know that there is much variety in composition among comets and even in the same comet - spatially, comet Hartley, or temporarily, comet Hale-Bopp.

                                                                   Comet Hartley:
Comet Hale-Bopp:

(The rise and fall of production of the various molecules is not constant  nor parallel.)

Tuesday 25 November 2014

ESOC Philae Landing

(Or Santa Claus goes "green")
Who I was on Wed Nov 12 in ESA-ESOC Darmstadt.


 Philae data from approx 1km height:
Below is the setting from the 1:1500 model in Göttingen      

(Philae is in the upper left, "nominally" in the yellow spotlight)


The Rosetta spacecraft's Philae probe, which landed successfully on an orbiting comet on 12 November (see Nature; 2014), could be renamed Pheidippides — for its record-setting marathon run and transmission of its message before collapsing.
Pheidippides anyone? 

And the truth about the landing  - you can step through this as well 142 images

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Albedo of a comet - what does this mean: 4 examples

Images of Enceladus, the Earth, the Moon, and Comet 67P/C-G, with their relative albedos scaled approximately correctly. The albedos that were used are: 100% for Enceladus, 31% for the Earth, 12% for the Moon, and 5% for 67P/C-G. The images are not however to scale physically. The image of Earth was taken by the OSIRIS camera on Rosetta during the spacecraft’s last flyby past our planet in 2009.The Advantage is the same system photographed both the earth and the comet reducing systematic calibration effects. Look carefully - the comet is THERE! You might be interested in following this further.

Preparation to land on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

ESA has put out a simple video explaining the last couple of months of Rosetta:
Preparing to land

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Team-work:diversity = unity

Mitchell is apprenticing to be a welder - I suspected that when he stood beside me to look at the partial solar eclipse last month - he used a welder's mask. He has a very alert inquisitive well read mind and asked lots of interesting questions as well as raised some thoughful remarks. And he has good eyesight picking out stars in the twilight that I would not be able to see for another 10 minutes. And it brought to mind a problem: we cannot all be astronomers like me! Or dogs like Snoopy, or Green like Kermit. However, we can all be on the same team. Sometimes it is difficult to identify the team. I am going over to Germany to witness man's first attempt to land on a comet. Canada is part of the team; however, I as an informed and interested Canadian am having difficulties learning what our contributions are. Two years ago I learnt that "we" had built the telecommunications system at Norcia 150km north of PerthCanada's Contribution

What actually spurred this entry was a alert I received today. And although it is about diversity, that is the key to unity or team-work for humanity. Have a great day.

PS If this ever caught on in our society ...

Sunday 2 November 2014

Raking Leaves at Kathleens

For the past couple of years Vicki and I have canoed to get in shape to rake leaves at Kathleen's house - it seems logical to us but then maybe I got hit on the head with a paddle?

Sad sight of a Bar-B-Q - but good memories:
Kathleen has flowers all the time and everywhere:
Vicki and Kathleen carrying rakes and tarpaulins (and I the responsibility?)
This is how a tarp is used - forget about putting it over a tent!

Last year we had a visitor:

This too was from 2013; however, it may have been seen again a few weeks ago.
Taken from #12 on our way home

Saturday 1 November 2014


I thank Daniel Fischer for encouraging me to go with him to Darmstadt in Feb 2004. That was supported by COSIMA

Lining up Rosetta to deliver

Maybe like this:

Many people have difficulty understanding how dark comets are. So here is an earlier "colour" image of 67P:

I only need between 50 and 100gm of soot per 1-2kg of water + dry ice mixture to get a matrix structure in my comets - a little bit of solids go along way. I am looking forward to the results from some of the Philae experiments - even if the PIs right now are as nervous as anything- in German we would press our thumbs, in English cross our fingers. And in the best of theatre:"Hals und Beinbrück" Or its all right on the night. Lets go Rosetta.

Saturday Morning coming down

Does anyone read these blogs? Another question . do you want to see 2 of our halloween visitors? (I dressed as Santa but I didn't selfie myself so you may have to wait.

Anyway this morning we had a gale off Couch and some snow flurries and plus temps - but just temporarily, I am afraid. The bug-free season has ended and the swarms of "white bugs" has begun! We drove out Horseshoe Valley Road. Not enough for X-country but soon!

Snow tyres or tires on Tuesday!