15 June 2015 - Philae wakes up
Philae comet lander wakes up after 7-month hibernation
Jane Onyanga-Omara (USA Today)
The comet lander Philae surprised scientists when it suddenly woke up and contacted Earth after a seven-month hibernation, the European Space Agency announced Sunday.
Scientists had lost contact with the solar-powered probe after it was dropped on the icy comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by its mothership Rosetta on Nov. 15. Philae's battery ran out at about 60 hours after it landed next to a cliff that largely blocked sunlight from reaching the lander's solar panels.
Scientists had hoped the probe would wake up again as the comet approached the sun, enabling Philae's solar panels to soak up enough light to charge the craft's main battery. But there were fears its mission would be cut short.
Any such fears ended late Saturday, when the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, received signals from the lander.
Sarah Knapton (The Telegraph)
For 85 seconds, Philae "spoke" with its team on ground, via spaceship Rosetta which dropped off the lander in November and has been orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko ever since.
Already hundreds of packets of data which were feared lost forever have been sent back to Earth for analysis.
“It’s good to hear from the lander. That’s somewhat of an understatement,” said Rosetta project scientist Dr Matt Taylor,
“I always knew it would come back. It’s like a soap opera. We had our cliff hanger, and now it’s got going again. I am very happy.
Lauren Raab (The LA Times)
In November, during the nearly 60 hours Philae could operate on battery power, the lander scooped up material from the comet's surface, took its temperature, sent radio waves through its nucleus and went hunting for hints of organic material.
Because comets are believed to date back to our solar system’s earliest days, they can provide clues about the solar system’s formation. Scientists wonder, for example, how big a role magnetic fields played in causing the gas and dust that surrounded the young sun to clump together into objects such as planets and moons. Measurements from Philae helped scientists find that the nucleus of comet 67P is not magnetized. If that’s representative of all comets, they concluded, “magnetic forces are unlikely to have played a role in the accumulation of planetary building blocks greater than one meter in size.”
Philae also took the first panoramic images from the surface of a comet.
Jamie Grierson (The Guardian)
While the probe had already returned enough data for scientists to address questions of where the comet might have come from and how old it is, the team may now be able to progress the mission further, Taylor said. Drilling into the surface to analyse samples of its composition would be among the next steps for ESA to take.
“It means we can do even more science now if everything goes positively over the next few days,” Taylor said. But he warned it was early days as only a limited amount of contact had been established. It’s just pinged us a short signal. Things look good – better than expected. Things look promising, but we can’t see much more. This is just housekeeping – there’s no science going on yet. It’s a waiting game.”
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"15 June 2015 - Philae wakes up", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), juin 2015. Consulté le 23/02/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2015/15-june-2015-philae-wakes-up