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Dr. Jens Biele, Friday, 8-28-15 August 29, 2015

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Dr. Jens Biele, Friday, 8-28-15


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Guest: Dr. Jens Biele. Topics: The Philae Lander & Rosetta Mission, DLR & ESA missions & more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm. For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed to the show Dr. Jens Biele of the DLR to discuss the Philae Lander as part of the Rosetta Mission to Comet 67P. During the first segment of our 1 hour 27 minute discussion, Dr. Biele summarized the Rosetta mission going back to its planning and development days, the flight to Comet 67PM and the Philae Lander’s anchor landing failure which he talked about at length. He also talked about communications from the lander to the orbiter and the narrow window for successful communications. We talked about solar and battery power, the type of data it can still transmit and related issues. Later, he was asked about other forms of propulsion including ion thrusters and advanced propulsion, plus he was asked if it would have been better to power the spacecraft by an RTG. He summarized some of the trades involved in making these types of decisions so don’t miss the discussion. BJohn asked about other DLR missions so MASCOT was discussed and later he discussed AIDA and AIM. As part of this discussion flyby missions were detailed and trojan asteroids were discussed. The subject of searching for life came up along with the discovery of organic molecules. Near the end of the segment, Roger from Rutgers asked if they considered Philae a success. Don’t miss his answer to this one. Other topics in this segment including drill samples, mission operating cost considerations, launcher choices and the shape of 67P which was a puzzle yet to be explained.

In the second segment, I asked our guest about the extremely long mission planning and design times coupled with the very long flight time and how that impacted people wanting to work space projects. As you will hear, it is not much different in Europe than here in the States with the same issues with NASA missions here. BJohn asked additional questions about future DLR missions and robotic exploration. This is the discussion that talked about both the AIDA and AIM European missions. Listener Helen asked about general European public support of ESA and space. You might be surprised by what our guest had to say in response to Helen so don’t miss it. In this context, Dr. Biele talked about ESA PR and its limitations and constraints. Toward the end of our program, he talked about human spaceflight, referenced Mars and going to Phobos as an initial part of human Mars exploration. When I asked our guest for closing comments, he said “If you dare you win. Take Some risks.” His final comments were ” Landers are cool!”

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. You can reach Dr. Biele through me or his DLR website.



1. J Fincannon - September 4, 2015

Thanks to Dr. Biele for this update!

I was curious about his remark about the batteries. He said as far as he knew they were fully charged. Did they get telemetry recently that confirmed this? There are a few sources of Philae telemetry but they don’t include the most recent data.
Was the battery designed to freeze and thaw as it must have? Impressive if it survived.

About finding life on the comet, it seems like although you might not find something growing on the surface, perhaps the interior is heated somehow (radioactive decay, pressure heating). Also, if Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe is correct with panspermia, then there may be dormant life forms spread throughout the comet ready to be collected and analyzed. (Note to Dr. Space: since Dr. Wickramasinghe is still around, he might make a good guest! He has done experiments gathering particles from high altitude balloons to support his theories).

What I found odd about the comet was that it was supposed to be “contact binary”. It seems to me that the odds of such an event are very high since space is so big. How could they have come together without smashing each other to bits? I prefer to think it was just one chunk that eroded over time to make a shape of a so-called contact binary.

About planetary protection (protecting Earth from comet pieces), the Genesis spacecraft apparently did not have this in effect (or they felt it didn’t matter) when it crashed on Earth. Although apparently no Andromeda Strain event happened, it seemed to be a warning that returning things to Earth is a problem.

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