Science and Exploration

Philae’s Descent on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: The Director’s Cut

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
September 15, 2015
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Philae’s Descent on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: The Director’s Cut
Philae's Descent on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

On 30 July, the first papers covering the scientific results obtained by Philae on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were published in Science magazine.
On that occasion, we released a number of images taken by Philae on 12 November 2014, including a sequence of seven taken by the ROLIS downward-looking camera towards the end of the descent to the lander’s first touchdown point at Agilkia, previously known as Site J. (As is now well-known, Philae rebounded after briefly touching down at Agilkia, eventually coming to rest at a site called Abydos.)

To mark the first anniversary of the selection of Site J as the target for Philae, we are releasing a “special edition” version of that ROLIS image sequence. The seven still images, each spaced by 10 seconds, have been interpolated in time to create a movie that shows Philae’s descent between 67 metres and just 9 metres above the surface in real time, taking just under 1 minute. The movie ends at that point, as there are no further images in the sequence: Philae had touched down at Agilkia before another 10 seconds had passed.

Having worked with Jakub Knapik, visual effects supervisor at Platige Image, Warsaw on our short sci-fi film, “Ambition”, we were delighted when he took those seven ROLIS images and used state-of-the-art visual effects tools to interpolate between the images to create this movie sequence. The soundtrack for this sequence, an instrumental version of “Saline” from the 2008 album, “Experiments in Mass Appeal”, has been provided by Jem Godfrey of Frost*.

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