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Rosetta’s Lander Philae Wakes From Comet Nap

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Posted June 16, 2015

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta’s lander (Philae) is out of hibernation. The signals were received at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 22:28 local time (CEST) on June 13. Since then, more than 300 data packets have been analyzed by the teams at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta's lander "Philae" awoke from its cometary hibernation on June 13. Credits: ESA

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta’s lander “Philae” awoke from its cometary hibernation on June 13. Credits: ESA

“Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of minus 35 degrees centigrade and has 24 watts available,” said the German Aerospace Center’s Philae Project Manager Stephan Ulamec. “The lander is ready for operations.”

For 85 seconds Philae “spoke” with its team on the ground, via Rosetta, in the first contact since going into hibernation in November 2014.

When analyzing the status data, it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier. “We have also received historical data — so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier,” Ulamec said.

Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact.  There are still more than 8,000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory, which will give the German Aerospace Center (DLR) team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae shut down on November 15, 2014, at 1:15 CET, after being in operation on the comet for about 60 hours. Since March 12, 2015, the communication unit on the Rosetta orbiter was turned on to listen out for the lander.

Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is provided by a consortium led by the German Aerospace Center in Cologne; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen; French National Space Agency in Paris; and the Italian Space Agency in Rome.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the U.S. contributions to the Rosetta mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL also built the MIRO instrument and hosts its principal investigator, Samuel Gulkis. The Southwest Research Institute, located in San Antonio and Boulder, developed Rosetta’s IES and Alice instruments and hosts their principal investigators, James Burch (IES) and Alan Stern (Alice).

Source: NASA

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