Sunday 24 September 2017

Philae comet lander back in touch

Artist's impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to the comet. (European Space Agency)
Artist's impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to the comet. (European Space Agency)

The Philae space probe that landed on a comet last year has made contact with Earth for the first time in more than two weeks.

German space agency DLR, which controls the lander, said it received data from Philae over a 22-minute period late yesterday, although the connection broke off several times.

Scientists were joyous in June when the comet lander awoke from seven months of hibernation, but they have been unable to explain why Philae is not communicating more regularly.

Its signals are relayed to Earth by the lander's mother ship Rosetta, which is orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet Philae is on.

DLR said the probe sent back data from a radar-like instrument that scientists hope will allow them to understand the composition of the comet's core.

Press Association

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