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Philae now risks 'firing' itself from comet's surface

"The most important issue facing Philae now is the lack of a secure fix to the surface", says Professor Tom Marsh - leader of Warwick's Astronomy and Astrophysics group, but firing the "harpoons is not necessarily a good idea".

Professor Marsh's full comment:

The most important issue facing Philae now is the lack of a secure fix to the surface. The lack of a secure fix will make it much harder to penetrate the surface with the drill for instance: it may simply cause Philae to rise off the surface. Firing the harpoons is not necessarily a good idea because that too could cause Philae to move (the same effect as the recoil from a gun), and if it positioned on a steep slope, this would endanger the mission. Exciting but uncertain times!

Speaking yesterday, Prof Marsh outlined the challenges facing the mission but all the potential for increased knowledge of the solar system:

To speak with Professor Marsh please contact:

Tom Frew - International Press Officer, University of Warwick;

a dot t dot frew at warwick dot ac dot uk

+44 (0) 2476575910

Professor Tom Marsh - T dot R dot Marsh at warwick dot ac dot uk