London: The Philae lander has started drilling into the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to collect scientific data, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Friday.
But, mission controllers are concerned about the battery life as it can hamper the lander's activities.
— Philae Lander (@Philae2014) November 14, 2014
ESA scientists are trying hard to save the comet probe before it dies due to battery shortage. The solar-powered probe has been getting just 1.5 hours of sunlight instead of the expected 6-7 hours, which is not enough to charge the secondary batteries.
Scientists believe the probe has landed in a cave, next to a cliff on comet that is blocking sunlight from its solar panels.
On Thursday, the Rosetta's Philae has sent back historic first images of comet taken from the surface.
On Friday, mission controllers were able to re-establish contact with the lander after a communications window was opened, while more science data has been collected and sent to Earth.
Even as the drill presses into the surface, scientists are uncertain about the fate of the lander as the consequences could either move Philae into a better place for receiving sunlight, or they could topple the craft bringing an end to the mission.
Scientists have expressed doubts whether the batteries will have enough power to transmit the data.
“Right now it was unknown whether battery power would be sufficient to link backup with the probe, maybe the battery will be empty before we get contact again,” Stephan Ulamec, head of operations for Philae, was quoted as saying.
Launched on March 2, 2004, Rosetta reached the comet on August 6, 2014, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a comet. On November 12, Rosetta's Philae lander became the first craft to land on a comet.