Lander Philae is awake: „Hello Earth! Can you hear me?“

Finally a sign of life: After 7 months of radio silence the ESA lander unit Philae is back on air. For 85 seconds it has transmitted data from the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, named Chury. In November 2014 the lander had to shut down due to lack of energy, now with increasing sun exposure the solar panels obviously supply the power required.

As ESA and DLR reported, the signals from Philae after his hibernation were received at ESA's European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt at 22:28 CEST on June 13. More than 300 data packets contain information about the status of the probe. "Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available," explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. "The lander is ready for operations."

The first analysis of the status data made clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: "We have also received historical data - so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier." Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few months on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae has landed on Chury on 12 November 2014 and has shut down on 15 November at 1:15 CET after being in operation on the comet for about 60 hours. Since 12 March 2015 the communication unit on orbiter Rosetta was turned on to listen out for the lander. The 14 FAULHABER Drive Systems on board of Philae help to scientifically study the surface of the comet.

The mission

The Rosetta mission, being undertaken by ESA, aims to research the history of how our Solar System was formed by investigating one of the oldest and most primordial of heavenly bodies, a comet. The mission consists of one orbiter and the Philae lander. DLR played a major role in building the lander and runs the lander control centre which prepared and oversaw the difficult task of landing on the comet on 12 November 2014 at 17:03 CET, a feat never before accomplished.