bisco industries Blog

Spacecraft Philae lands on comet for the first time:

The Rosetta mission completed its primary mission after 12 years and travelling 300 million miles. The Philae lander touched down on the comets surface on November 12th being the first spacecraft in history to accomplish this. The mission did not go completely according to plan requiring three touchdowns before landing successfully. The three attempts at landing caused the spacecraft to land in a different spot than intended out of direct sunlight which the spacecraft needed to recharge its batteries. This caused the spacecraft to go into hibernation.

Although the spacecraft’s solar powered batteries died shortly after landing the mission was still successful as all the instruments were able to transmit their data back to Earth before losing power. A mission like this uses a variety of instruments to get that data that is needed. Thankfully none of these instruments were damaged in the two failed landings and were able to collect everything that was needed.

There is still hope that the batteries may recharge after receiving some sunlight. Mission controllers rotated the solar panels upon landing so they would get more sunlight. The comet may have to travel closer to the sun before the spacecraft has the power to wake up from hibernation.  There is still uncertainty as to how long this can take with estimates being from a few weeks to a year.

In light of this recent space exploration success Bisco Industries would like to highlight the role that spacecraft actuators play in these once in a lifetime space missions. An actuator is a type of motor that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system. It is operated by a source of energy, typically electric current, hydraulic fluid pressure, or pneumatic pressure, and converts that energy into motion. Spacecraft actuators have been a vital part of every space mission that has been attempted. These missions include traveling to the moon as well as recent missions like Rosetta. You can see Bisco’s current line of actuators by Southco at

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