Rosetta comet mission: Scientists have limited time to save Philae
European scientists just have few hours left to save its robotic probe 'Philae lander' after it landed in a cave near the foot of the cliff on comet.
London: European scientists just have few hours left to save its robotic probe 'Philae lander' after it landed in a cave near the foot of the cliff on comet.
Rosetta's Philae bounced twice before settling it on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, November 12.
Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) are in a desperate race to rescue solar-powered Philae because the main battery on the lander may run out of power in the next 24 hours.
The robotic probe will not get enough sunlight to work beyond Saturday since it lands in the shade.
However, ESA said a secondary battery can be charged by the sun if the lander is moved to get its largest solar panel into the sun light.
“The primary battery enabling the core science goals of the lander may run out any time in the next 24 hours. As for the secondary battery, charged by solar panels on Philae, with only 1.5 hours of sunlight available to the lander each day, there is an impact on the energy budget to conduct science for a longer period of time. The original landing site offered nearly seven hours of illumination per 12.4 hour comet day”, confirmed the ESA.
With little time left to save, scientists are now struggling to get data from the lander before it dies or find an alternative way to recharge its solar panels.
Meanwhile, mission controllers say the probe is pushing ahead with efforts to drill into the comet, though they're still trying to pin down where exactly the probe is.
Scientists hope to drill into the comet to extract some of the material buried beneath the surface of the comet. Stephan Ulamec, head of operations for Philae, said in an online briefing Friday that "we have activated the drill."
Earlier, Philae has sent back the first ever images from the surface of the comet.
ESA's Rosetta mission was launched in 2004, hoping to learn about the origins of our Solar System.
Rosetta's Philae has created history by becoming the first craft to land on a comet.