Comet lander awakes from long hibernation

Mar 28, 2014
Picture released by European Space Agency on December 20, 2013, of an artist's impression of Rosetta's lander Philae on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

European space experts said on Friday they had successfully reawakened a fridge-sized robot designed to make the first-ever spacecraft landing on a comet.

The 100-kilogramme (220-pound) Philae was revived after more than three years of deep space hibernation, in a key phase of a billion-dollar mission launched over a decade ago.

France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), in Paris, said that the spacecraft had re-established contact with Earth, and that an "initial signal was received at 3.00 pm (1400 GMT) today at mission control in Cologne, Germany".

A Twitter account set up for the said: "My controllers say that I am in quite good condition after 39 months of hibernation.

"My new software has uploaded perfectly. I'll be taking a little rest now! Talk to you soon."

The lander is travelling aboard an called Rosetta which will make an historic rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, currently 650 million kilometres (400 million miles) from Earth, this summer.

In November, the Philae lander is due to descend to the , anchoring itself before using an array of 10 instruments to probe the surface and analyse its dusty ice.

Rosetta prepares to wake comet-probing robot
Fact files on the Rosetta probe and the Philae robot it will send down to land on and analyse a comet. (130 x 140mm)

Comets follow elliptical orbits around the Sun, spewing spectacular tails of gas and dust as close brushes with the star cause their surface ice to evaporate.

Dramatic sightings over the course of human history have given birth to many myths associating these wanderers of the Solar System with great events like famines and wars.

For cosmologists, though, they are balls of ice and dust offering insights into how the Solar System formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Some scientists believe comets may have brought much of the water in today's oceans and possibly the complex molecules that kickstarted life on Earth.

Explore further: Comet-probing robot to wake from hibernation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comet-probing robot to wake from hibernation

Mar 26, 2014

A fridge-sized robot lab hurtling through the Solar System aboard a European probe is about to wake from hibernation and prepare for the first-ever landing by a spacecraft on a comet.

Rosetta сomet-chasing probe wakes up, signals Earth

Jan 20, 2014

Waking up after almost three years of hibernation, a comet-chasing spacecraft sent its first signal back to Earth on Monday, prompting cheers from scientists who hope to use it to land the first space lander ...

Rosetta sets sights on destination comet

Mar 27, 2014

(Phys.org) —ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has caught a first glimpse of its destination comet since waking up from deep-space hibernation on 20 January.

Recommended for you

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

48 minutes ago

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

3 hours ago

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

4 hours ago

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

Copernicus operations secured until 2021

4 hours ago

In a landmark agreement for Europe's Copernicus programme, the European Commission and ESA have signed an Agreement of over €3 billion to manage and implement the Copernicus 'space component' between 2014 ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rockwolf1000
2.8 / 5 (4) Mar 28, 2014
"A Twitter account set up for the robotic lander said: "My controllers say that I am in quite good condition after 39 months of hibernation.

"My new software has uploaded perfectly. I'll be taking a little rest now! Talk to you soon.""

Really? We have to anthropomorphize yet another spacecraft?
At least they're not discussing a moon goddess and pet rabbits made of stone or other gobbledegook.
Rutzs
4 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2014
@rockwolf1000 ... Let the kids have some fun. The entire reason Philae has a twitter account is to attract children and young adults who generally would not show interest in these sorts of articles.

Would you rather have the next generation to simply not be interested in space?
rockwolf1000
2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2014
@rockwolf1000 ... Let the kids have some fun. The entire reason Philae has a twitter account is to attract children and young adults who generally would not show interest in these sorts of articles.

Would you rather have the next generation to simply not be interested in space?


If that is the level we must stoop too to attract interest in space we're probably better off without them. Recent studies have shown that "Disney" type movies distort children's perceptions of reality in biology and ecology. My guess is that these tactics will produce similar results.

Anyone who doesn't find space interesting at face value probably has a chemical imbalance of some sort anyway and should seek professional help.
shavera
2 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2014
Everyone should be like me. I'm so obviously superiour to everyone else that we shouldn't allow for personal differences or accounting for variations in education and background exposure to things that interest me

- rockwolf1000
rockwolf1000
3 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2014
Everyone should be like me. I'm so obviously superiour to everyone else that we shouldn't allow for personal differences or accounting for variations in education and background exposure to things that interest me

- rockwolf1000

That's not at all what I said or implied. Every opportunity to increase people's interest in science and space should be explored and utilized. Except initiatives that distort children's view of how the real world functions. i.e. pretending this inanimate object is communicating with us.
Clearly, I am superior to you however, given I don't include glaring typo's in my posts.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.