Space & Astronomy
Philae probe may wake up in the spring
By T.K. Randall
February 2, 2015 · 5 comments
An artist's impression of the Philae lander. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 German Aerospace Center
Scientists are hoping that Rosetta's companion lander will come back to life within a few months.
It has been hailed as one of the most significant space exploration accomplishments in years, but despite surviving its daring descent on to the unexplored surface of comet 67P back in November the Philae lander now lies dormant in an area of rough terrain with the shadow of a nearby cliff cast across its solar panels.
Rosetta has been able to narrow down the general region in which the probe landed but its exact location remains uncertain.
Not all is lost however - scientists believe that there is still a chance that the probe will come back to life on its own once the comet is close enough to the sun for the solar panels to receive enough light.
It is possible that this will happen as early as March but it is more likely to take until May or June for Philae to receive enough sunlight to re-establish communications with the Rosetta orbiter.
Even if it never wakes up at all however the probe will still go down in history both as the first ever spacecraft to perform a soft landing on a comet and for the huge wealth of data it managed to collect within those first vital few days that it remained in operation before its power ran out.
Either way ESA have declared that its mission has already been successfully accomplished.
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Rosetta, Comet, Philae
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