Philae Comet Lander Wakes Up After 7 Months to Tweet ‘Hello Earth!’

Jun 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm |

ESA Philae comet lander

Incredible image of the comet 67P/CG acquired by the Philae lander during descent on November 12, 2014. (Photo ESA via Getty Images)

After a historic landing on the comet 67P last November, the European Space Agency’s Philae lander fell into silence and was classified as missing. That all changed this weekend, when, after seven months of silence, the lander “woke up” and tweeted “Hello Earth! Can you hear me? #WakeUpPhilae.”

According to the Philae project manager, the probe “is doing very well. The lander is ready for operations.” This comes as very good news for the ESA and supporters of the comet landing, who, much like Philae, have been in the dark for the past seven months about the pending success or failure of the mission.

Back in November, the probe had a bumpy landing after its anchoring gear did not deploy. The result was that it drifted over half a mile across the comet’s surface, endeing up in a shadowy crater where it did not get enough sunlight to stay charged. After only 57 hours on the comet, Philae went into hibernation. This animated GIF is exactly what did not happen:

Still, Philae’s return to communication comes earlier than expected, and scientists now think it can carry on with its mission to study the geography and composition of the comet. By August, the comet will have reached its closest point to the Sun, allowing the lander to take measurements and samples of the melting ice, expelled gases, and other changes caused by such an approach.

Stay tuned to find out about the exciting discoveries coming from this historic mission.

It’s alive! See what this historic probe’s first tweet said after 7 month asleep and lost in space!