Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Probe Philae Wakes Up from Slumber


In a first of its kind, the scientists manning the Rosetta Orbiter were able to drop a tiny probe called Philae on the surface of a comet with great precision. The probe landed on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 17, 2014. Due to the malfunctioning of the anchoring mechanism, the lander fell into a small ditch on the surface of the comet. Being a shady spot, this ditch had shut off the sunlight to the solar panel of the lander, forcing it to go into a slumber. After it’s touching on the surface, the lander had worked only for about 60 hours.

rosseta orbiter

Change in Comet Climate

After slipping into the standby mode, the landing device was contacted at least 3 times in the past. Nothing seemed to work as the lander could not replenish the charge in the batteries from the attached solar panel. That time, the comet was moving away from the sun. Since April this year (2015), the comet seemed to have changed the direction and is now fast heading towards the sun. That is the reason more light is percolating down the gorge to reach the solar panel that powers the probe. This started happening my May 2015. With this change, the scientists working with European Space Agency (ESA) have started to pin hope on its revival.

philae probe

Probe Comes Back to Life

In June 2015, the Operations Centre of ESA situated in Darmstadt, Germany, has started suddenly receiving signals from Philae. After proper recharging of the batteries, the probe on the comet has started sending signals to its parent craft Rosetta Orbiter. The parent spacecraft has in turn re-transmitted these signals to the ESA Operations Centre in Germany. After decoding the 300 data packets received from the probe, the scientists at Lander Control Wing of the German Aerospace Centre has announced that it has emerged from its 7-month slumber with a message “Hello” from space. The jubilant Philae Project Manager announced that the lander’s vital parameters are reported normal. He further elaborated that it has begun operations at a temperature of -35 degree Celsius.

probe back life

Slight Delay in Work Resumption

With the available charge of 24 watts, the probe is ready for its designed work. However, it will take some time. This is because the scientists have to check all the scientific instruments on board. The scientists are working round-the-clock to check whether the complete charge drainage has had any impact on these instruments. After this checking, the work of the lander would resume. The scientists are waiting for that day.