Shadow of a Doubt

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully deployed its Philae lander November 12 on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with a mission to drill, extract and analyze samples, and send pictures back to Earth.

Unfortunately, Philae landed in the shadow of a cliff that is probably blocking sunlight needed to recharge its batteries. Today the ESA received no signals during a scheduled effort to establish communication.

Paolo Ferri, ESA’s head of mission operations, told The Associated Press that the Rosetta orbiter did not get any signals from the lander on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

ESA on Friday ordered a rotating operation to pull the lander out of a shadow so that solar panels could recharge the depleted batteries.

Even if that operation was successful, it may take days or weeks until the batteries of Philae are strong enough to send signals again.

“We don’t know if the charge will ever be high enough to operate the lander again,” Ferri told The AP ahead of the 1000GMT (5 a.m. EST) listening time.

4 thoughts on “Shadow of a Doubt

  1. (Sung to the refrain of the Beatles’ “Get Back” ( as I watch A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, in the background, on TCM…))

    Sweet Rosetta’s landed,
    On a comet, stranded,
    Sunshine sure would be a blast.

    Refrigerator sized,
    A planetary prized,
    Our knwoledge of eons vast!

    (JB: Or something… 😉

Comments are closed.