An update on Rosetta’s effort to re-establish contact with Philae

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This update describes the status of the effort by the Rosetta science team to re-establish a stable communications channel with the Philae lander on the surface of Comet 67P/C-G.

Confirmed contacts between Rosetta and Philae have been made on 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 23, and 24 June, but were intermittent during those contact periods. For example, the contact on 19 June was stable but split into two short periods of two minutes each. Conversely, the contact on 24 June started at 17:20 UT (on board Rosetta) and ran for 20 minutes, but the quality of the link was very patchy and only about 80 packets of telemetry were received. Prior to this, on Tuesday, 23 June, there was a 20-second contact, but no stable link was established and consequently no telemetry data were received.

There are many reasons why the contacts have been so intermittent, much of it related to Philae’s position on the surface. To improve things, they are carefully adjusting Rosetta’s position relative to the comet while avoiding placing the spacecraft in a position where the coma’s dust will cause problems.


  • Edward

    Aviation Week had an article that suggests that, despite the current difficulty in communications, the awkward landing may have an unexpected advantage:

    “It was very fortunate that we landed where we did and not out in the open, because Philae could hibernate and not get overheated when the comet moved closer to the Sun, … we will be able for the first time ever to measure a comet close to the Sun; under the original plan, this would not have been possible.”

  • PeterF

    Too bad the primary power supply is politically correct. A reactor with solar power backup would have eliminated all of this drama.

  • J Fincannon

    Reading the story at the link, it sounds as if the batteries are still not functional, they must wait until Philae is in sunlight to get enough energy to transmit.

    Also, PeterF, they were not going to have a “reactor” on such as small spacecraft. Europe doesn’t have spacecraft reactors anyway, nor even radioisotope power supplies (the option I think you meant). Not sure it is PC related though since France has alot of nuclear reactors.

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