Philae wakes up

June 16, 2015 | 00:39
Philae touchdown
Philae touchdown
The European Space Agency announced on the 14th June that their Philae Lander probe which came to rest on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko seven months ago has woken up and sent more than 300 data packets to the Lander Control Centre at the German Aerospace Centre in Darmstadt.

At touchdown in November the Lander skipped across the surface of the comet and came to rest in a shaded area which meant the solar panels could not produce enough energy to keep the batteries topped up. As the comet gets closer to the sun sufficient energy is now falling on the solar panels to start charging the batteries. According to Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec "Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and there is 24 Watts of power available, the Lander is ready for operations." The transmission lasted for 85 seconds and was relayed via the Rosetta craft which is orbiting the comet. When the information was analysed it was clear that Philae had been awake prior to the transmission: "We have also received historical data – so far, however, the Lander had not been able to contact us earlier."

Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the Lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae shut down on 15 November 2014 at 1:15 CET after being in operation on the comet for about 60 hours. Since 12 March 2015 the communication unit on orbiter Rosetta was turned on to listen out for the Lander transmissions.
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