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2014-12-09
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Fate of Philae - Happy Landing!

Philae, the landing craft of Rosetta probe, was detached from the mother ship at 8.35 am GMT as planned today. The event was confirmed at 9.03 a.m GMT, with the anticipated delay of nearly half an hour for radio signals to reach Earth.

After the successful detachment, the scientists at the European Space Agency confirmed first worrying glitch, which could potentially jeopardize the anchoring, even if the landing takes place as planned - the malfunctioning of thruster.

The thruster in question was there to provide the probe with an additional downward force to complement the combined force that Philae gets from harpoons in its attempt to attach itself to the surface of the comet.

If the worse comes to the worst, when the harpoons are fired, the recoiling force that could act back on Philae could force it upwards due to very low gravitational pull of  the comet on the probe.

So, the final outcome is determined, not just by the laws of physics, but by a stroke of luck too.

If the rest of the landing goes as planned and the absence of the role of the thruster can be overcome, Philae will be on the surface of the comet at 3.30 pm GMT. 

The confirmation, however, only reach the earth after 4.00 pm GMT, due to the delay of the radio signal, thanks to the vast distance involved.

Happy Landing!
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