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Space & Astronomy

Comet lander Philae wakes up after 7 months

By T.K. Randall
June 14, 2015 · Comment icon 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 | Comments (26)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Comet robot Philae phones home again Europe's comet lander has again been in touch with Earth.The Philae probe made three short contacts of about 10 seconds each at roughly 2130 GMT on Sunday. Controllers at the European Space Agency said the contacts were briefer than they had hoped, but proved the little robot was in encouragingly good health after its seven-month slumber. Read more...
Comment icon #18 Posted by Merc14 9 years ago
Apparently there are 8,000 data packets on board Philae, ready to be transmitted, which will cover its first few days on 67P. http://earthsky.org/space/philae-lander-is-alive?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=f8079991ba-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-f8079991ba-394012957
Comment icon #19 Posted by GreenmansGod 9 years ago
Just call little Philae the little lander that could. Great news.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Philae wake-up triggers intense planning 15 June 2015 The receipt of signals from Rosetta’s Philae lander on 13 June after 211 days of hibernation marked the start of intense activity. In coordination with its mission partners, ESA teams are working to juggle Rosetta’s flight plan to help with renewed lander science investigations. Philae has woken up after seven months in hibernation on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Hidden by shadows, Philae shut down on 15 November 2014 at 00:36 GMT after completing its main science operations sequence on the comet when the primary battery expired a... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by BeastieRunner 9 years ago
"This simple feeling, is beyond Philae's comprehension." Let's hope it doesn't start attacking and assimilating everything in site. Jokes aside, this is really cool.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Controllers wait on Philae link No new signals have been picked up from the Philae comet lander since a brief radio contact on Sunday. European Space Agency (Esa) controllers listened again on Tuesday night but heard nothing. This was not surprising, they said, given the less than ideal conditions for a radio connection. Read more...
Comment icon #23 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Lander Control Center in contact with Philae once again The team at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) received data from the Philae lander for the third time on 19 June 2015. Between 15:20 and 15:39 CEST, Philae sent 185 data packets. "Among other things, we have received updated status information," says Michael Maibaum, a systems engineer at the DLR Lander Control Center (LCC) in Cologne and Deputy Operations Manager. "At present, the lander is operating at a temperature of zero degrees Celsius, which means that the battery is now warm enough to st... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Contact with Philae still irregular and unstable Despite a new trajectory for Rosetta and a reduction of the distance between the orbiter and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from 200 to 180 kilometres, contact with the Philae lander remains irregular and short. After the initial contact on 13 June 2015, Philae has reported to the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC) in Cologne a total of six times. However, for the last three possibilities calculated for establishing a connection with Philae, no data could be received. "Right now... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
New communication with Philae – commands executed successfully The Philae lander communicated with the Rosetta orbiter again between 19:45 and 20:07 CEST on 9 July 2015 and transmitted measurement data from the COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) instrument. Although the connection failed repeatedly after that, it remained completely stable for those 12 minutes. "This sign of life from Philae proves to us that at least one the lander's communication units remains operational and receives out commands," said German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luf... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Headache for Philae On 9 July 2015 at 19:45 CEST, Philae reported back to the team at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC) – only to then go back to 'silent mode'. Since then, the team has been working hard to get back in contact with the lander and operate it to conduct scientific measurements. "We sent a command to turn on the Rosetta Lander Magnetometer and Plasma Monitor (ROMAP), but have not seen a response," explains DLR's Philae project leader Stephan Ulamec. Using an identical model in the Microgravity User Support ... [More]


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