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Philae's descent: The director's cut

Philae's descent: The director's cut

Date: 15 September 2015
Copyright: See below

On 30 July, the first papers covering the scientific results obtained by Philae on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko were published in Science magazine. On that occasion, a number of images were released taken by Philae on 12 November 2014, including a sequence of seven taken by the ROLIS downward-looking camera towards the end of the descent to the lander's first touchdown point at Agilkia, previously known as Site J.

To mark the first anniversary of the selection of Site J as the target for Philae, we are releasing this "special edition" version of the ROLIS image sequence. The original seven still images, each spaced by 10 seconds, have been interpolated in time to create a movie that shows Philae's descent between 67 metres and just 9 metres above the surface in real-time, taking just under 1 minute. The movie ends at that point, as there are no further images in the sequence: Philae had touched down at Agilkia before another 10 seconds had passed.

Having worked with Jakub Knapik, visual effects supervisor at Platige Image, Warsaw on our short sci-fi film, "Ambition", we were delighted when he took the seven original ROLIS images and used state-of-the-art visual effects tools to interpolate between the images to create this movie sequence. Jakub used the VFX compositor NUKE from The Foundry to re-project the original set of seven images in 3D, then rendered an interpolated sequence using a tracked 3D camera that mimicked the path of Philae during its descent. Some small patches in the images were edited due to drop-outs in the original data. Also, the parts of Philae seen at top-left and top-right in the images were masked out before interpolating, replacing them afterwards.

Note: the indicated times, distances, and resolutions shown are not necessarily exactly in sync with the images.

Original descent sequence images: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR, Stefano Mottola
Sequence interpolation and editing: Jakub Knapik, Platige Image
Music: "Saline" (instrumental version), from "Experiments in Mass Appeal", Frost*/Jem Godfrey
Overall movie editing: Sarah Poletti and Marc Thiebaut (ATG/medialab for ESA)

Last Update: 1 September 2019
4-Mar-2024 12:13 UT

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