19 June 2015
The Lander Control Center (LCC) at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) facility in Cologne is responsible for the commanding and operation of the Philae lander.
DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
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.
The team at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) received data from the Philae lander for the third time on 19 June 2015. Between 15:20 and 15:39 CEST, Philae sent 185 data packets. "Among other things, we have received updated status information," says Michael Maibaum, a systems engineer at the DLR Lander Control Center (LCC) in Cologne and Deputy Operations Manager. "At present, the lander is operating at a temperature of zero degrees Celsius, which means that the battery is now warm enough to store energy. This means that Philae will also be able to work during the comet's night, regardless of solar illumination." In the 19 minutes of transmission, the lander sent data recorded last week; from this, the engineers determined that the amount of sunlight has increased: "More solar panels were illuminated; at the end of contact, four of Philae's panels were receiving energy". There were a number of interruptions in the connection, but it was otherwise stable over a longer period for the first time. “The contact has confirmed that Philae is doing very well.”
The lander had already reported from the comet twice after its seven-month hibernation; it sent data on 13 and 14 June 2015. The analysis by the DLR team at the LCC was clear – Philae has managed to survive the icy temperatures on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko – temperature and energy values show that the lander is now operational. In the first two contacts, it sent stored data from early May. "Philae was already awake at this time, but could not contact us," explains DLR's Philae Project Manager, Stephan Ulamec. Now, the trajectory of the Rosetta orbiter around the comet is being modified to optimise the possibility for renewed contact, to allow the orbiter to act as a relay between Philae and Earth. "However, we need a long and stable contact time to conduct research with Philae again as planned," says Maibaum. If these conditions are met, the 10 instruments on board Philae could once again be operated from the LCC.
Last modified:19/06/2015 18:54:50
19/06/2015 20:04 -
from Anxious Enthusiast
Amazing piece of engineering. Well done! You have much to be proud of.
20/06/2015 02:27 -
Hi there and Congratulations!!! I am eagerly waiting for any panorama or a picture.Do you have any plans for moving Philae out of that ridge? I know it is risky but when Philae is approaching her end it would worth it if you try. It may prolong her operations by a month or two and imagine what would be to see better views from the comet surface
20/06/2015 05:29 -
from The Daily Chimbim
AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tears of joy!!!!!! Hurrah, Philae.
20/06/2015 11:17 -
from Karin Ranero
Dear Emil,The Philae lander was constructed and built to work on one site. DLR is able to Rotate it as was done before its hibernation began (this was done to position the solar panels in a more favorable angle to the Sun). When MASCOT lands on asteroid 199JU3, it will hop and conduct measurements at different places, but Philae with its 10 instruments will stay where it is.
21/06/2015 10:05 -
What size are the data packets?
21/06/2015 18:30 -
from Ron Smith
Congratulations on your stunning successes so far! I've heard that Philae's originally-planned landing site would have been optimal for a short period of time after which the sun's rays would have 'fried' the instruments as the comet nears the sun but that its current shaded location will help to protect the lander for much longer. But what about Rosetta? Do have any means of mitigating its exposure to the sun, say by adjusting its orbit around the comet to stay in its shadow for as long as possible? It would be tragic to have Philae alive and well but lose Rosetta.
22/06/2015 10:29 -
from Manuela Braun
Ron,The Rosetta mission is officially scheduled to operate until December 2015, but it will probably be extended until mid 2016. Philae will continue to have Rosetta’s support. If all goes according to plan, the lander will work until September or October. By then, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will have travelled around the Sun, and entered regions without enough sunlight – this, in turn, will leave Philae without the energy required to continue operating.
22/06/2015 11:12 -
from Oliver Küchemann
Alistair:Telemetry packets generated by Philae are of fixed size. They carry 256 bytes of payload data each - additional 20 bytes form the packet header in which the packet generation time is stored.CDMS collects Housekeeping data from all enabled subsystems/experiments and formats the corresponding packets before storing them in the Mass Memory or forwarding them to the Orbiter directly if an RF link is established at that moment. Results from scientific units are collected in the same way, but the internal data formatting is transparent to CDMS.
22/06/2015 15:20 -
from Mehdi Sadeghi
Will Philae be able to drill the comet surface while it is not locked to the surface?
22/06/2015 19:30 -
from Scott McGillivray
What are some of the low risk and high risk tasks Philae can do? If Philae can maintain steady contact with Rosetta, what will be the order / priority of tasks for Philae?
23/06/2015 10:41 -
from Ron Smith
Hi Manuela,Many thanks for the extra information.Good luck!!Ron
23/06/2015 14:53 -
from Manuela Braun
First, we have to analyse Philae’s status carefully. Then, the non-mechanical instruments will be operated – those that don’t have any effects on the Lander, consume little energy and send small amounts of data to Earth – e.g. measurement of temperature with MUPUS. Afterwards, instruments like ROLIS could be operated. Instruments such as the drill will probably be the last ones to be operated.
23/06/2015 19:26 -
Hi there. You kept silent for a few days. I couldn't find any new information since July 16. Is everything ok with Philae? Is Rosetta already repositioned for stable communications?