Many moons ago, a small space probe named Philae skipped across the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko when the lander’s harpoon-like anchoring mechanism failed. It came to rest in a shady spot and, without enough sunlight to keep it powered, it fell asleep after about 60 hours of operation.
Mission scientists had been trying to pinpoint its locationsince November — until late Saturday.
At 10:28 p.m., the European Space Agency’s operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, just south of Frankfurt, received a signal from Philae, which transmitted more than 300 data packets. Those have been analyzed at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center, which dubbed Philae’s emergence from its seven-month slumber a “‘hello’ from space.”
“Philae is doing very well. It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 watts available,” Philae project manager Stephan Ulamec said in a statement. “The lander is ready for operations.”