Wake Up Philae! Last-Ditch Effort to Find Rosetta’s Lander
This image shows a view of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft taken on Dec. 15, 2015 from a vantage point 57 miles away. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
With time running out to find the lost comet lander Philae, ground controllers attempted another communications pass on Sunday in hopes of getting the probe to shift into a better position.
The lander dispatched by Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 12, 2014, but it bounced several times and ended up wedged by a cliff wall. Philae completed a short, pre-programmed science run, but hopes to return it to work so far have been fruitless.
The last contact with Philae was on July 9. The comet, which made its closest approach to the sun in August, will be more than 186 million miles away by the end of the month. Temperatures on the surface of 67P will plunge to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius), too cold for Philae’s equipment to operate, the German Aerospace Center said on Friday.
“Time is running out,” Philae landing manager Stephan Ulamec said in an update posted on the agency’s website.