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Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 9:41 AM

the people at the headquarters of the incredibly successful Rosetta mission are currently perplexed. one of the features of their Philae probe was a drill designed to take shallow samples of the comet surface. the probe didn't settle evenly on all 4 legs as hoped. the fear is if the drill is deployed the probe might start bouncing away and could be lost.

some say go for it with the small remaining charge in the battery. I'm in the camp that says wait and possibly get more data when the solar panels can collect more energy. what would you do?

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#1

Re: would you fire up the drill?

11/14/2014 9:47 AM

Well, consequence of failure might be the end of the mission.

Pretty big gamble. I'm with you; postpone the drill sampling.

But (at this writing) the ESA hasn't called to ask me.

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#2

Re: would you fire up the drill?

11/14/2014 9:49 AM

I guess they will need old Bruce on that.

It's pretty interesting though, now they manage to achieve it like the movie.

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#3

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 10:14 AM

There are several factors that must be known to make an informed decision.

  • Are the batteries net draining or charging with the partial sunlight the craft is getting from the depression it sits in? This might limit the choice to drill now or never.
  • How pivotal to this research project is taking a drilling sample? Taking pictures of the comet does not require contact with the comet. Taking a core sample does require contact.
  • What other experiments can be performed without drilling and how valuable are they to the project?
  • Can Philae be made more secure before drilling?

As I said, these and probably other questions must be known and discussed before making an informed, correct choice. With what I know, I say start drilling. You've gone to far to not try.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 11:34 AM
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#4

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 11:10 AM

I say even part of a mission is better than having the lander laying on its back.

Isn't it 3 legs?

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#17
In reply to #4

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:03 PM

Four

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#21
In reply to #17

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:32 PM

Huh ? Is it male ?

I thought it had 3 legs. What extra bit are you including ? In any case, each leg has 2 'foot screws'. I'm running with 6 as the answer.

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#27
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Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/15/2014 11:06 AM

Got ya ta look, yes.

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/15/2014 12:25 PM

Yeah, but I still want to know if it's referred to as 'he' or 'she'.

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#25
In reply to #17

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 9:47 PM

Diagram of Philae (Image; ESA)

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#6

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 12:54 PM

Take shallow samples? I did not know they were planning on getting the probe back to earth to analyze the samples or is that something they can do remotely to a great enough effect.

I would recommend waiting for a full battery charge, then perhaps try that last harpoon again with a full boost and see if it seats the probe better. Then drill.

This reminds me of the 3 penguins in the animated movie Madagascar. When they finally arrived on their block of ice in Antarctica and bumped their ship into an iceberg, they collectively reflected..."well, this sucks". Then the next scene we see them sitting on tropical beach getting a sun tan...that was funny.

If it does come back to earth, I hope it leaves the comet behind...

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 1:24 PM

not return them, process on site

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#9
In reply to #6

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 1:35 PM

As I understand, the samples would be analyzed in situ.

Full battery charge is not likely in the present position.

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#10
In reply to #6

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 1:40 PM

mass spectrometer to perform analysis of soil

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#7

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 1:22 PM

Well I just heard on the news...They fired up the drill and soon lost contact. That is a bummer, maybe the probe is on the way back to earth already...depending on which direction it fell off the comet. Hopefully it is just dead batteries that may be recharged when they get out of the shade...

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#18
In reply to #7

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:07 PM

Massey, see Post #8. The probe isn't returning anything, including itself. It's doing the analysis in-situ, whilst it sits there, permanently. It is to transmit its findings to Earth, not bring back physical samples.

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#11

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 1:53 PM

14 min ago:

"Scientists have begun activating a drill and hammer on board the robotic comet probe Philae in an attempt to move it into sunlight so that its solar panels can be charged.

"Time is running out for the European Space Agency's lander. Since its bumpy triple touchdown on Wednesday, the spacecraft has been resting on its side, lodged in the shadows of a cliff or large boulder."

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/14/philae-comet-lander-drills-hammers-rosetta

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 2:10 PM

personally I think this is the work of aliens, their version of getting their kicks by tipping cows over

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#13

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 6:08 PM

I would think the priority here is to get the panels in the light....I would still try the harpoon on a sunny patch of rock....

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 6:13 PM

No! (Newton's 3rd Law) firing the harpoon might launch the whole shebang back into space.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 7:32 PM

What no thrusters....? Maybe the harpoon is self powered, like a little rocket....

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:02 PM

No thrusters for maneuvering once landed.

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#19
In reply to #14

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:14 PM

Yes, N3L rules in the realm of deep space kinematics.

The engineers/scientists are knee deep in the middle of a historic/tragic scientific exploration moment. The members of this team mutually recognize that the press of humanity wants to know what is happening while their precious fleeting time ticks off as their options dwindle as the opportunities drift past. It appears, right now to this outside observer, that there are two competing concerns. How much battery energy can they dedicate to trying to get out of this apparent hole to get more sunlight energy for the batteries and how much longer can the experimental data from the existing useful sensors provide with the limited power available if the sun never returns to this cave in space.

I, for one, will not second guess whatever they choose to do. There will be plenty of time afterwards to second guess and learn from their actions.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:21 PM

Yep. GAs on both counts (your post, above, and #3).

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#22
In reply to #20

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:48 PM

Much appreciated.

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#23

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 8:57 PM

If they pulse the on/off switch so the drill spins at half speed and is pushed into the ground at half pressure it might not launch itself back up again.

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#24

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 9:02 PM

Use the drill to push it back out into the sunlight!

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#26

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/14/2014 10:56 PM

They did drill into the comet....

"Rosetta's lander, called Philae, failed to anchor itself as planned on the comet's body, causing it to bounce and reland at about 1 km (.62 mile) away from its original target.

Photos and other data later relayed by Philae indicate it is trapped in shadow, suggesting it ended up by a cliff wall or inside a crater. With battery power dwindling, scientists sent commands for Philae to attempt to use its drill to obtain samples from the comet's body.

Those results were still pending, but on Friday Philae made a belated radio call via the orbiting Rosetta mothership, reporting that its drill successfully operated.

"First comet drilling is a fact!" ESA posted on Twitter Friday night.

Scientists also decided to attempt to reposition the lander so its solar panels could recharge.

"Just started lifting myself up a little and will now rotate to try and optimize the solar power," ESA said on the Philae lander Twitter feed.

One of the most important tasks for the 100-kg (220-pound) probe was to obtain samples from inside the comet for chemical analysis.

Comets are believed to be pristine remnants from the formation of our solar system some 4.6 billion years ago. They contain rock and ice that have preserved ancient organic molecules like a time capsule and may provide insight into how the planets and life evolved.

Philae's drill descended more than 25 centimetres (10 inches) on Friday, penetrating the comet's surface."

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/11/15/space-comet-idINKCN0IZ02P20141115

The lander is now in sleep mode.....they have tried to hop the lander into a better position with the landing gear....probably will know better tomorrow am....

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/comet-lander-philae-asleep-30746838.html

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#29

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/15/2014 7:04 PM

I guess I would decide on a "what have we got to lose" approach.

Knowing just about nothing of the options, I would say do nothing except take action to get the batteries charged.

But if deep samples are required, and I guess that is an absolutely critical part of the mission, then get them while you can before the batteries run out.

As an aside to the problem, could the impact of landing and drilling etc, deflect the comet from it's course? Even if only microns of a degree?

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: Would You Fire Up the Drill?

11/16/2014 4:52 AM

I'm inclined to agree. We've all heard about how the thing is stuck and unable to get enough solar power, but I've not heard if there is any chance that as the comet moves (physical translation/rotation) if it may get enough light to boost it's power.

Last I read, samples have been taken, and data sent back is being analyzed right now. The samples are from an order of inches below the surface, but that is enough to answer some crucial questions. If they detect amino-acids then the ramifications are huge. We may not know ET's phone number, but we will know he is likely out there. Statistics say 'yes', but this will be almost proof evident. It also answers the big one - where did we come from.

Whatever data is found or not, this project has been a mind blowing success. I watched the whole Armsrong/moon stuff in wide eyed awe. This may not have the glam of people there, but in science and engineering terms this is an 'I remember that' occasion. Just think about it - a lump of icey/whatever, a huge distance away, it's moving very fast and tumbling as it goes. To even get a probe into synchronos orbit is amazing. To land the thing in what is effectively zero g beggers belief. On top of that, date has been recieved and is being analyzed.

Even if things stop right now, the project has broken so many records as to put it off the charts. I'm in no way jingoistic about it, but if NASA had not bailed on the project I wonder how much more could have been done. Hardly NASA's fault that their purse strings were cut, but had they been more involved it would have inspired so many youngsters to get involved with science and engineering. No hostile intent, but I hope that ESA's success will be as much a wake up call as Sputnik was back in the day.

I shall now run and hide in case anybody misconstrues my meaning.

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