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After three years in hibernation Europe’s Rosetta comet probe has successfully come back to life.
The craft at the heart of ESA’s €1-billion (US$1.4-billion) comet-hunting mission was shut down in 2011 to save energy while travelling in deep space. Rosetta successfully re-established communications with Earth on 20 January.
With an alarm pre-set for 10:00 GMT, a signal was expected at any time from 17:30 GMT, once the spacecraft had warmed up and turned its antenna towards Earth. But Rosetta kept everyone guessing, with the first sign that everything had gone to plan only arriving around 40 minutes later.
ESA’s European Space Operations Centre erupted in cheering and hugging as small spikes appeared in radio signals received at NASA deep-space communications centres in Canberra and in Goldstone, California.