Photo credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
By Bill Chappell
Exactly 15 months after it completed a seemingly impossible journey to land on the surface of a comet, the Philae lander now faces “eternal hibernation,” as officials at the European Space Agency say the craft doesn’t get enough sunlight to power its batteries.
“The chances for Philae to contact our team … are unfortunately getting close to zero,” says Stephan Ulamec, Philae project manager at the German Aerospace Center, DLR. He added, “We are not sending commands any more, and it would be very surprising if we were to receive a signal again.”
Philae is the lander from the Rosetta spacecraft, which for months now has been orbiting Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and listening for signs of activity from its companion craft. But after an encouraging period of contact last summer, Philae has been silent since July 9.
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