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.

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User comments : 5

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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.

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