Sci & Tech

Philae Wakes Up After 7 Months

Philae Wakes Up After 7 Months
Philae Wakes Up After 7 Months

The European Space Agency’s probe Philae has woken up and contacted Earth after about seven months in hibernation, the organization said Sunday.

Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November. It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat. The comet has since moved nearer to the Sun and Philae has enough power to work again, BBC reported.

“Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35 Centigrade and has 24 Watts available,” said Stephan Ulamec, Philae project manager at the German Aerospace Center. “The lander is ready for operations.”

An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, “Hello Earth! Can you hear me?”

ESA said in a blog post that Philae “spoke” with its team on ground via Rosetta for 85 seconds on Saturday, in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.  Philae shut down on November 15, 2014. Since March 12, the communication unit on orbiter Rosetta was turned on to listen out for the lander.

The post also said during analysis of the status data, it became clear that Philae must have been awake before, and that the scientists are waiting for it to make contact again. ESA scientist Mark McCaughrean said, “It’s been a long seven months, and to be quite honest we weren’t sure it would happen.”

Philae was carrying large amounts of data that scientists hoped to download once they made contact again, he said.

The comet lander is approximately 305 million km from the Earth and around 220 million km from the Sun.

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.  Philae, which is around the size of a washing machine, bounced over a km when it first touched down on the comet, after a ten year journey of approximately 500 million km, since its launch in 2004.

The ESA said on Thursday that it may have found the exact location of the comet from images and other data from the mothership, which was previously unknown.