In other words, are the photos transferred "live" to Rosetta or did they plan to transfer them after landing? (and would they have been lost had the landing failed)

(yes, I am aware that "nice photos" are less important for mission control than for regular public like me :))


I meant hypothetical failed landing, where Philae could not land and started drifting into space, or tipped over randomly. What would happen then?

  • Assuming Philae can't be contacted, did Rosetta receive the descent photos before landing? (so they are safe and can be transmitted to Earth)

  • Or maybe Philae can be contacted by Rosetta even if it does not maintain the correct attitude and can still transmit any data it records?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Looks like it's a moot point! $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Nov 12, 2014 at 16:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Kind of obsolete now that the lander succeeded. You may want to re-phrase the question. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 16:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Un-moot now -- there's some concern that the lander isn't stable on the surface at the moment. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder what's the speed of information transfer from Philae, in bits per second. How fast can it send a typical b/w photo. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


Based on the fact that we don't know 100% the status of Philae right now, but we do have some descent photos, I'd say yes, it is possible, so long as contact can be maintained.

  • $\begingroup$ The current situation may or may not reflect the condition I meant in my question (see the clarification)... But yes, your answer could be correct! $\endgroup$
    – szulat
    Nov 12, 2014 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ It seems this simple answer was the best one - the lander did not behave exactly as planned, and yet the photos have been retrieved. I still don't know if Rosetta received any photos before landing, so they could be transmitted to us even if the lander disintegrated upon hitting the comet, but I can live without it :-) $\endgroup$
    – szulat
    Nov 17, 2014 at 12:03

There are two specific things that we have to have to get pictures in this case:

  1. Communication: PearsonArtPhoto already talked about this. If we can't receive information from the probe we can't get pictures.
  2. The instruments cannot have been damaged: Take a look at this picture of Philae:

enter image description here

(Note: instruments are described on the Wikipedia page)

The equipment isn't in a precarious spot on the craft (given a landing at the right angle), but if it this at a bad angle, we could see some damage (hypothetically; at the moment, it seems we're good).

As per your edit:

It seems we have some pictures from the descent. You can find more information about them here and here. There's also a cheerful last sentence about the latest pictures here:

The first images from the surface are being downlinked to Earth and should be available within a few hours of touchdown.


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