15 June 2015
Few things could be more fascinating or demanding in the history of European space travel than the Rosetta comet mission. The lander, Philae, will separate from its parent craft on 11 November 2014, touch down on the comet and immediately fire harpoons to anchor itself on the surface. The two spacecraft will then accompany the comet on its month-long journey to the point at which it is closest to the Sun.
DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
The Philae lander reported back on 14 June 2015. From 23:22 to 23:26 CEST, the lander sent some data packets that are now being evaluated at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). "But this time, the connection to the lander was relatively unstable," says DLR Philae Lander Project Leader Stephan Ulamec. On 13 June 2015, the lander woke up for 85 seconds for the first time after a nearly seven-month hibernation and sent the first regarding its condition. The data acquired during the second contact confirms that Philae, which is on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is in good condition and ready for operations. Now, the trajectories of the Rosetta orbiter will need to be adapted to allow longer contact times with Philae.
There is now sufficient energy and a temperature that is not so low, so Philae is currently receiving at least three hours of sunlight per comet day, which supplies it with energy. Until now, the engineers had been expecting only 1.3 hours of illumination. Before the team at the DLR Lander Control Center can command Philae, which is about 304 million kilometres away from Earth, stable and long duration connections to the lander must be established. Only then, can the prepared procedures for the scientific work with its 10 instruments be uploaded and the next experiments begin.
The order in which the instruments will be activated will be determined once Philae's health has been fully analysed. "First, the non-mechanical instruments will be used – that is, instruments that do not drill or hammer," explains Ulamec. In the forefront will be those instruments that consume little energy and also send only small amounts of data to Earth. With the awakening of Philae, it could be possible to do research on a comet on site while it becomes active on the way to the Sun for the first time.
Rosetta is an ESA mission with contributions from its Member States and NASA. Rosetta’s Philae lander is contributed by a consortium led by DLR, MPS, CNES and ASI.
Last modified:15/06/2015 17:22:55
15/06/2015 17:54 -
Continued GOOD LUCK!
15/06/2015 18:39 -
from Johnny Long Silver
Are you going to show us any pictures from Philae ? We're all desperate to see some!
15/06/2015 20:33 -
from Dan L
Has there been any report of the state-of-charge of the secondary cells?
15/06/2015 22:32 -
from David Duncan
When manlind acomplishes a feat as complex as this 300 + million milesfrom earth I just wonder what they will acomplish in the not too distant future, well done to all involved in this great feat, I will be following progress with great interest
16/06/2015 02:36 -
from Steve crye
Clearly, the first thing sent back needs to be a new picture!!! Public relations is important.
16/06/2015 13:42 -
from Eduard Navarro
It's so exciting to read about this project and see things working. Congrats every one there!!!
16/06/2015 16:31 -
from David L
Seems totally incredible to be there, your work is fantastic and has to be highly rewarding. Good luck into the future. Photos and any data you can share will be appreciated.