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Friday 23 February 2018

Comet lander Philae contacts team

Philae touched down on the comet in November (European Space Agency/PA Wire)
Philae touched down on the comet in November (European Space Agency/PA Wire)

Comet lander Philae has woken up from hibernation, the European Space Agency has announced.

The probe became the first spacecraft to land on a comet when it touched down on the surface of 67P in November.

The German Aerospace Centre, which operates Philae, said today that the probe communicated with the ground team on earth for 85 seconds yesterday.

Shortly after its historic landing, Philae managed to conduct experiments and send data to earth for about 60 hours before its batteries were depleted and it was forced into hibernation.

The centre said Philae resumed communication at 10.28pm local time last night, sending about 300 packages of data to earth via its mother ship Rosetta, which is orbiting the comet.

"Philae is doing very well," project manager Stephan Ulamec said.

Scientists had hoped the probe would wake up again as the comet approaches the sun, allowing its solar panels to charge the on board battery.

Mr Ulamec said the probe appears to have been awake for some time before it called home, because some of the packages received contain historical data.

Philae has more than 8,000 data packages still stored in its memory, which scientists hope to receive when the probe next communicates with Earth. The data contained therein may help them determine where Philae has landed.

The probe's exact location has been a mystery, though scientists have narrowed down its likely location based on images and other measurements received from Philae and Rosetta.

Press Association

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