Date
30 March 2017
ESA flight engineers work in the main control room. On Sunday, they reestablished contact with Philae seven months after the robotic lander went into emergency hibernation. Photo: Reuters
ESA flight engineers work in the main control room. On Sunday, they reestablished contact with Philae seven months after the robotic lander went into emergency hibernation. Photo: Reuters

European space lander back on after being lost in space

Philae has phoned home.

The European space lander has made contact with Earth seven months after it became lost in space.

Reuters is reporting that the European Space Agency (ESA) has received signals from the robotic lander, ending fears it may have been gone forever after a botched landing on a comet.

The failure forced the vehicle into emergency hibernation.

The lander apparently woke up after moving out of the comet’s shadow as it sped closer to the sun, receiving enough sunlight to power its solar panels, according to scientists.

ESA senior science adviser Mark McCaughrean told Reuters they still have to make sure “it’s not the last croak of a dying cowboy”.

Philae was on the line with ESA controllers for 85 seconds via its mothership Rosetta, which is orbiting the comet about 6.5 kilometers above, according to Reuters.

Philae’s official Twitter account also came back on, saying “Hello Earth! Can you hear me?”

Philae’s payload of soil samples from the comet could unlock secrets to how the planets, possibly even life, evolved.

It was launched in November after a 10-year journey across 6.4 billion km.

The mission cost nearly 1.4 billion euros (US$1.8 billion).

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CG/RA

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