One last chance for Philae

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With time running out as Comet 67P/C-G moves away from the Sun, the Rosetta engineering team is going to try one more time to contact the lander Philae.

The lander team are going to try another method to trigger a reponse from Philae: on 10 January they will send a command, via Rosetta, to attempt to make Philae’s momentum wheel switch on. “Time is running out, so we want to explore all possibilities,” says Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager at DLR. Philae’s momentum wheel ensured that it was stable during its descent from the orbiter on 12 November, 2014.

If the command is successfully received and executed, the hope is that it might shift the lander’s position.”At best, the spacecraft might shake dust from its solar panels and better align itself with the Sun,” explains Philae technical manager Koen Geurts at DLR’s lander control centre.

They also believe that one of the lander’s two transmitters and one of its two receivers are broken, which makes communications difficult at best.


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