Philae Comet Landing: Big Discoveries About Comet 67P (Infographic)

Roundup of details from Philae's exploration of the comet.
Scientists have released new information about comet 67p and what the Philae lander discovered there. (Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

On Nov. 12, 2014, 317 million miles (510 million kilometers) from Earth and 14 miles (22.5  km) from comet 67p, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe releases the Philae lander.

Full Story: Surprising Comet Discoveries by Rosetta's Philae Lander Unveiled

Video: Philae Lander Seen Post-Touchown By Rosetta? + New Descent Pics

Related: Will Europe's Philae Comet Lander Make Another Comeback?

A comet nucleus has very low gravity, so the lander relied on harpoons, hold-down thrusters and ice screws to secure itself to the surface. When these mechanisms all failed, the lander bounced back into space for a 1 hour and 50 minute ballistic flight. Due to Comet 67P's low gravity, Philae weighed about the same as a paper clip. On its first rebound, Philae ascended with a speed of 15 inches (38 centimeters) per second. Escape velocity from the comet is 19.7 inches (50 cm) per second. 

A grazing collision with rim of crater Hatmehit caused Philae to begin tumbling. The lander's second impact with the comet was followed by about 7 more minutes of drifting.


The closest view taken by Philae, just before its first impact, reveals a granular soil called regolith, littered with blocks up to 16.4 feet (5 meters) in size. Scientists estimate the regolith to be between zero and 6.4 feet (2 m) deep.

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Karl Tate contributor

Karl's association with goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.