Rosetta Mission: Philae Lander Wakes Up, Contacts Earth After Seven Months

Over seven months after it lost contact with the Earth, the Philae Lander spacecraft that landed on a distance comet named 67P has awoken. According to a BBC News report, the Philae Lander “woke up” from its seven-month-long hibernation and contacted Earth. Signals from Philae Lander, which also happens to be the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was received by the European Space Agency (ESA), which manages the mission. The announcement of the Philae Lander’s rise from the dead was tweeted by the spacecraft’s official Twitter handle.

The tweet has since then been retweeted countless times (over 3,000) at the time of drafting this report.

The lander has since issued other tweets too and said it is getting back to work now, according to the Independent.

The official Twitter handle of the European Space Agency and the Rosetta Mission too has tweeted about the Philae Lander’s comeback.

The Philae Lander, which is a part of the Rosetta Mission, made headlines back in November 2014 when it became the first man-made object to land on the surface of a comet. After it landed on the surface of Comet 67P, it sent out pictures from the surface of the comet. The lander also discovered several organic molecules on the surface of the comet, the details of which were sent to the Earth.

However, only 60 hours after the landing, Philae Lander began to lose battery power, and it soon went to alarmingly low levels. It soon went into hibernation and was not heard from — until today, that is. Philae Lander’s last tweet was sent out on November 15.

The Philae Lander was originally designed to send data to Earth for a period of nine months. It, however, went into hibernation a few days after it landed. It would be interesting to see if the lander manages to receive full power and manages to work for another two months.

ESA has not revealed the reason for the Philae Lander to wake up suddenly after seven months.

Update: ESA Has now put up a blog post detailing the current status of the Philae Lander. According to the post, the fist signals from the lander were received at around 22:28 CEST (4:28 p.m. EST) on Sunday. The lander managed to send over 300 data packets to the ESA owned European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt. All the data sent by the lander was analyzed by scientists from the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

According to Dr. Stephan Ulamec, the project Manager for the mission, the lander is doing pretty well.

“Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available. The lander is ready for operations.”

The blog post added that Philae Lander actually “spoke” to the team members on the ground for 85 seconds after it came back from hibernation. Meanwhile, it is being now thought that the lander might have awoken on earlier occasions too but was unable to contact Earth.

The Philae Lander has the capacity to store a further 8,000 data packets in its memory, and the team expects it to beam further data down to us in the days to come.

[Image Via ESA]