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  Painting, gravitational waves, Philae finaleFeb 13, 2016 2:34 AM PST | url | discuss | + share
 
Added 1 new A* page:My readers keep A* going by supporting the comic through the A* Patreon campaign! And I get to send them rewards, for instance here's a monthly reward painting I did for a supporter a few months back:
 
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Thank you!!
 
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Now that a day has passed and everyone's a little calmer after the big announcement yesterday of the first ever detection of gravitational waves and a binary black hole (among other firsts), the BBC has a calmer and more coherent article about the breakthrough, which ties things together pretty well.
 
They've also got an article called Ground control bids farewell to Philae comet lander, in which it is revealed that the ESA mission team has given the Philae lander up for lost after not hearing from it since last summer; it had been hoped that with Comet 67P nearing its closest approach to the Sun, some light and heat would reach the little lander in whatever trench it had bounced into on the comet's surface after its rocky landing, and allow it to wake up; that never happened, and now, with the comet moving away from the Sun, there's little hope that it ever will. Indeed, temperatures in the shade there are cold enough to warp and snap some of the lander's components, and, furthermore, by now certain internal parts of the machine that needed to retain a little heat in order to function—"including the onboard computer and the communications unit"—will have lost that heat, and no longer be operable, even if by some miracle a beam of light managed to strike one of its solar panels—which are by now probably coated in comet dust. So farewell, Philae! You were the first cometary lander in human history, and although your bumpy landing didn't allow you to run all the experiments that had been hoped for, it may help pave the way for many more to come. And Philae's mother ship, Rosetta, continues to explore the comet from orbit. Big things are hoped for particularly in September, when the probe will spiral down for its own landing on the comet's treacherous surface.
 
 
 
 
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