One of the most exciting space missions of recent history may have just come to an abrupt end, as the European Space Agency (ESA) has seemingly lost touch with its Philae lander, currently flinging through the cosmos on a comet.
The Rosetta mission sent the lander to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and though it had a bouncy landing, the craft did re-establish contact with the Earth-based team for a while. But recent attempts to reach the lander have failed — and the ESA believes it might have lost contact for good. The team sent one final message to Philae in an effort to wake it up, though it seems to have failed. As The Independent notes, the lander will likely remain silent until the mission officially ends this month.
The problem? That rocky landing, which found Philae coming to rest outside of its originally planned landing area, because the harpoons failed to attach and secure its location. Since the device is solar-powered, it wasn’t in a position to charge, so the batteries have seemingly drained as the lander rests in an apparently shaded area.
There’s still a chance the lander could shake off some dust, or catch the right angle, but the odds get lower with each passing hour. Barring some major luck, it seems Philae’s time in the spotlight may have come to an end.
Despite the hiccups, the mission is still a huge success story for the ESA. Before running out of juice, Philae was able to send back some information, and they’ve garnered a ton of intel from the project.
(Via The Independent)