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You can now watch Philae's historic descent to comet 67P in GIF form

You can now watch Philae's historic descent to comet 67P in GIF form

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The Philae lander had quite the exciting end to its 10-year journey to Comet 67P last fall. Now the ESA has just released this GIF of the lander tumbling towards the comet as it left its resting place aboard the Rosetta spacecraft. The 19 images that make up the GIF were taken over the span of four hours on November 12th. Philae disappears from view just hours before the lander's harpoons failed to fire, which sent it skipping across the comet's surface.

Philae lander impact

Back in November, the ESA released this low-res GIF of Philae's initial impact.

It's unclear why the images are being released now, but the ESA has been slow to release hi-res imagery from the Rosetta mission since the landing. That reticence has stirred a broader debate in the scientific community about the embargo policies of different agencies. Scientists behind the missions want exclusive access to the images for study, but the popularity of missions like Rosetta means there's pressure to release them early. "I understand the frustration of the public and the media," the ESA's director general Jean-Jacques Dordain told the BBC earlier this month. "But, on the other hand, I understand the position of the principal investigators who have invented the mission."