Last November, we reported on the ESA’s Philae lander and its extraordinary separation from the Rosetta spacecraft and rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Sixty hours after landing, the ESA lost all contact with the lander. For months we wondered if it were dead, destroyed, lost somewhere in space, or just out of battery power. Riding the comet closer to the sun might recharge its solar batteries. Might. Then today the ESA announced:
Rosetta's lander Philae is out of hibernation!
The signals were received at ESA's European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt at 22:28 CEST on 13 June. More than 300 data packets have been analysed by the teams at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
"Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available," explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. "The lander is ready for operations."
For 85 seconds Philae "spoke" with its team on ground, via Rosetta, in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.