Sunday, June 14, 2015

Philae is awake!

The European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander, out of power and presumably lost after bouncing into heavily shadowed terrain last November, phoned home Saturday after finally getting enough sunlight on its solar panels to transmit data to the Rosetta orbiter for relay to Earth, ESA reported Sunday.

More than 300 data packets were received at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in a burst lasting 85 seconds, the first sign of life from the lander since it went into electronic hibernation Nov. 15, about 60 hours after touchdown.

The data were relayed to Earth by ESA’s Rosetta orbiter, which released Philae more than three months after matching orbits with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last August.

“Philae is doing very well,” project manager Stephan Ulamec said in an ESA blog post. “It has an operating temperature of -35 (degrees Celsius) and has 24 watts available. The lander is ready for operations.”

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