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Press release archive: 2015

No radio contact with comet lander Philae

20.3.2015 16:19

The European Space Agency ESA did not regain contact with Philae, which landed on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November. The next contact attempt will be in April.

Image: ESA

Image: ESA

The Rosetta probe has been attempting to contact Philae, which remains on the surface of the comet, since 12 March, for the first time since its landing in November. Contact has been attempted a total of 11 times during this time, but to no avail.

After landing, Philae's solar panels did not get enough light, leaving the lander in a state of hibernation. Researchers had hoped that by now the comet would have approached the Sun enough to produce energy for establishing radio contact.  

"We do not yet know the exact reason why Philae could not be contacted. The temperature inside Philae may still be below -45 degrees, or then for some reason it can't get enough energy from the solar panels to respond to radio contact. Contact can be reattempted in April, when there will be more sunlight", says Research Manager Walter Schmidt from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Philae's permittivity probe SESAME/PP and mass memory, provided by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, worked well during the landing phase and even after the demanding landing itself. "Even though we are slightly disappointed at the moment, we still hope that the equipment can keep performing measurements later in the spring", Walter Schmidt adds.

Philae is located in a hole on the side of the comet, a site named "Abydos". Its exact location is not yet known, but according to data analyses by the new CONSERT radar, its location has been defined with an accuracy of 40 metres.

Further information

Research Manager Walter Schmidt, tel. +35850 324 3107, walter.schmidt@fmi.fi