ESA receives new message from comet-lander Philae

The Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko communicated with the Rosetta orbiter again on the weekend, although the connection was fragile and broke after 12 miunutes.

“This sign of life from Philae proves to us that at least one of the lander’s communication units remains operational and receives our commands,” said Koen Geurts, a member of the lander control team at DLR Cologne.

The development is a relief to scientists who had not heard of the lander since 24 June. After an initial test command to turn on the power to CONSERT on 5 July, the lander did not respond. Philae’s team began to wonder if the lander had survived. 

“We never gave up on Philae and remained optimistic,” said Geurts.

There was great excitement when Philae “reported in” on 13 June after seven months of hibernation and sent data about its health. The lander was ready to perform its tasks, 300 million kilometres away from Earth.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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