Philae wakes up from hibernation on its comet

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  • Published: Jun 17, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman / Infrared Spectroscopy / Base Peak / X-ray Spectrometry / MRI Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics / NMR Knowledge Base / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Atomic
thumbnail image: Philae wakes up from hibernation on its comet

The Philae lander resting on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has woken up after a six-month hibernation and has begun talking to its masters at the European Space Agency.

When it made that incredible landing on the comet from its Rosetta parent craft, it became lodged in a ditch at a poor angle which prevented charging by sunlight to take place. Eventually, after about 60 hours of operation, Philae went into hibernation but ESA scientists always predicted that there was a good chance that it would come back to life as the flight of the comet took it closer to the sun.

And this is exactly what happened as the lander became warmer and more exposed to sunlight. This culminated in brief radio contact during which a few hundred packets of housekeeping were transferred via Rosetta to the ESA station in Germany.

"Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of minus 35 degrees centigrade and has 24 watts available," said Stephan Ulamec, Philae project manager at the German Aerospace Center. "The lander is ready for operations."

It is hoped that measurements of the comet by both Philae and Rosetta will resume so that the mission can gather data that will help to establish the role of comets in the history of the Solar System

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