Space & Astronomy
Comet lander Philae wakes up after 7 months
By T.K. Randall
June 14, 2015 · 26 comments
The lander has awoken and is up and running once again. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 German Aerospace Center
The Rosetta probe's companion lander Philae has finally awoken after losing power in November.
Launched by the European Space Agency in 2004, the ambitious Rosetta mission aimed to not only enter in to orbit around a comet but to land a probe on its surface - a goal that was eventually achieved last year when Philae became the first ever spacecraft to touch down on one.
Unfortunately however due to a bumpy landing the probe ended up sitting in the shade meaning that its solar panels weren't able to receive enough sunlight to keep it going.
After conducting a number of initial experiments Philae was reluctantly placed in to hibernation mode in the hope that it would eventually wake up again once the comet had ventured closer to the sun.
Now finally after more than seven months the Rosetta team has picked up the first new signals from the probe indicating that it has awoken and is fully operational once again. The news has been particularly well received as there were serious doubts over whether Philae would ever wake up.
"Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available," said project manager Stephan Ulamec. "The lander is ready for operations."
If all goes well then the team should be able to resume their analysis of the comet's surface using the probe's on-board instruments and learn more about the earliest days of the solar system.
"It's a look at the basic building blocks of our solar system, the ancient materials from which life emerged," said Rosetta scientist Kathrin Altwegg. "It's like doing archaeology, but instead of going back 1,000 years, we can go back 4.6 billion."
Source: Washington Post
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Philae, Rosetta, Comet
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