Comet lander Philae phones home

An image of the Philae lander, maybe?

This close-up of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shows the region of the comet where the Philae lander probably came to rest. The bright spot could be the lander itself or just a feature of the comet's surface, mission scientists say.

ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Philae has phoned home.

The robotic lander pinged the European Space Agency on June 13, sending an 85-second transmission that let mission scientists know the lander is ready to go to work again on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

It has been seven months since the little lander touched down on the comet. Philae went into hibernation not long after, leaving mission scientists waiting in anticipation for signs of life from the lander. They have been listening for signals since March.

The new data suggest Philae has been awake for a bit and may have tried to call home earlier. The team is now waiting for Philae’s next contact so more of the lander’s data can be downloaded. That data could fill in a few more details about what Philae has been up to the last few days, the team reports in a June 14 blog post.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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