Sunday, June 14, 2015

European comet probe wakes up from hibernation

European Space Agency's Philae probe has woken up and made contact with controllers, seven months after it went into hibernation on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The probe lost contact with its mothercraft Rosetta in November, 60 hours after becoming the first spacecraft to land on a comet.

The craft's battery had failed to charge after it bounced twice off 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

A harpoon system had failed to activate correctly leaving the craft on its side beside a cliff about 1km from the original target.

Last month Andrea Accomazzo, flight director of the ESA's Rosetta Mission, told Al Jazeera he had almost given up hope the craft would wake up.

"I don't put too many hopes in having Philae reactivated," Accomazzo said. "I consider it not impossible but extremely unlikely."

There had been hopes as the comet neared the Sun that Philae's solar panels would recharge its batteries. Now it appears the craft has done just that, communicating for 85 seconds with controllers.

Many of the craft's 10 instruments were able to run their tests and transmit the results before its battery ran out.

It now looks likely that these tests may be able to be resumed, with indications that the craft may have been awake for some time before resuming contact.

"We have also received historical data - until now, however, the lander had not been able to contact us," the Philae Project team said in an email....



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