As you no doubt recall, if you've been following this blog, Rosetta's Philae comet lander made a successful (and eventful) landing on Comet 67P on 12 November 2014. After a non-nominal landing it found itself in an unfortunate location and in an unusual attitude such that the performance of its solar arrays was critically compromised. As a consequence, once its batteries were almost exhausted, little Philae entered an automatic process which placed it into a period of hibernation - and I would have guessed that that would be the last we'd hear from it. The only hope was that as the comet moved closer to the Sun on its orbit, the sun's intensity and the lander's temperature would increase, making it at least possible that the batteries would recharge.
Well, much to the surprise of the ESA scientists and engineers, Philae 'spoke' briefly for 85 seconds, the signal being received at 20.28 UT on Saturday 13 June 2015 at the European Space Operations Centre. Among other things, it indicated that its temperature was a balmy -35 degrees C, and it currently had 24 W available from the solar array. The simple brief message suggests that Philae may yet recover from its long sleep. The comet is not yet at perihelion (the closest approach to the Sun - which occurs on 13 August). So hopes are high that Philae's work is not yet done.
In the mean time, the 'mothership' Rosetta continues to orbit the nucleus, imaging and recording every detail as the nucleus begins to warm up .
Graham Swinerd - I hope to use this page to highlight current major events in space and spacececraft.