In DepthSpace Science

The return of Philae

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Science  19 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6241, pp. 1295
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6241.1295

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Summary

The Philae comet lander has woken up from a 7-month slumber; now the European Space Agency is trying to communicate with it and get it to embark on new experiments. Following an awkward landing in a heavily shadowed area on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, Philae's batteries quickly exhausted themselves. Many were worried that its solar panels would not receive enough light to resume operations. But a weak 85-second burst of communication on 13 June provided hope: The small spacecraft was warm enough to get to work. This week, mission managers were altering the pointing and orbit of Rosetta, the lander's mothership, in order to renew radio contact. If they can regain control, first experiments would include ambient measurements of temperature and electrical conductivity that make few power demands.