Solar power

I’ve been meaning to get to this for days. You’ve known it for days, but I want to post about it anyway, just because. I’m talking about the fact that Philae woke up.

The European Space Agency (Esa) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth.

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, says the BBC’s science correspondent Jonathan Amos.

They thought it might, but they thought it might not.

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

On its blog, Esa said Philae had contacted Earth, via Rosetta, for 85 seconds on Saturday in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.

Esa’s senior scientific advisor, Prof Mark McCaughrean, told the BBC: “It’s been a long seven months, and to be quite honest we weren’t sure it would happen – there are a lot of very happy people around Europe at the moment.”

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

“I think we’re optimistic now that it’s awake that we’ll have several months of scientific data to pore over,” he added.



  1. says

    I was likewise quite delighted by this. It seemed such a gloriously crazy project at the time (land on a comet? Seriously?) that almost any success seems just lovely, in that larger context. Sure it’s been mixed, sure there’ve been difficulties, sure there’s still some question how much data they’re going to be able to get with the narrow communications windows… But still: there’s a functioning probe. On A Comet.

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