The successful Rosetta mission has hit a snag. Scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA), which has been running the Rosetta mission, have stated that the Philae lander, which is currently present on the 67P Comet, is not responding.
The Philae lander landed on the Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, last year. After its bumpy landing it was forced to go into hibernation mode as it landed in a spot where its solar cells were unable to gather enough solar energy for it to recharge itself. Philae lander ran on battery power for 54 hours, and during this period it could put all ten of its onboard instruments to work as well as send back lots of data. But it has not been able to recharge after that, and has been silent since then.
The ESA scientists, who are working on the Rosetta mission, have stated that they are doing their best to find the lander and re-establish contact later when the comet’s get near the sun. However, the first few attempts to establish contact with the Philae lander have been unsuccessful.
Stephan Ulamec, project manager of the Rosetta Mission, said, “We have to be patient. It was a very early attempt; we will repeat this process until we receive a response from Philae.”
According to the scientists, the lander requires 5 watts of power to wake up but to turn on its transmitter; it requires 19 watts of power. In order to function, it also needs temperatures of at least -45 degrees Celsius.
“It could be that the lander is already awake but does not yet have enough power to transmit a response; in this case, Philae could still receive the commands and execute them,” added Ulamec.
The scientists now believe that the lander might only respond in April. Meanwhile, ESA scientists continue to send ‘blind commands’ to the lander in order to optimize energy usage.