Rosetta probe to start listening for the lost lander Philae

possible Philae landing area

Rosetta scientists think Philae landed somewhere in a boulder-filled landscape (circled). In this image taken 20 kilometers from the comet, Philae would be no larger than three pixels.


Are you there Philae? It’s me, Rosetta.

On March 12, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe will start listening for a signal from the lost lander Philae, missing in action since its rough landing on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 12. Rosetta’s orbit is taking the spacecraftover Philae’s suspected hideout, so for the next eight days, Rosetta will send a signal to the lander and listen for a response.

As the comet swings around the sun in the coming months, Philae might be able to recharge its solar-powered batteries. Engineers don’t expect to hear from Philae just yet, but given that Rosetta will be in the neighborhood, they have decided to try.

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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