The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission’s lander Philae has woken up after seven months in hibernation on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The signals were received at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 22:28 CEST (4:28 p.m. EDT) on Saturday (June 13, 2015).
The ESA made the announcement via Twitter.
In November, 2014 the Philae lander became the first man-made object to land on the surface of a comet. Philae bounced twice before touching down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and operated for just about 60 hours before running out of power and entering a hibernation mode as a result of its solar panels being in the shadow of a cliff. Since March 12, 2015 the communication unit on orbiter Rosetta was turned on to listen out for the lander. Saturday’s is Philae’s first contact since November.
More than 300 data packets have been analyzed by the teams at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Dr. Stephan Ulamec is DLR Philae Project Manager. Ulamec said:
Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available. The lander is ready for operations.
For 85 seconds the Philae probe “spoke” with its team on ground, via the Rosetta spacecraft, in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.
When ESA scientists analyzed the status data, it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier.
Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Bottom line: The Rosetta Mission’s Philae lander has woken up after seven months in hibernation on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The signals were received at 22:28 CEST (4:28 p.m. EDT) on June 13, 2015.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.