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Communication 'Highly Unlikely' From Philae Lander in Near Future

The head of the European comet mission says it is unlikely that any kind of communication will be established with the Philae lander soon.
/ Source: Associated Press

BERLIN — The head of the European comet mission says scientists were listening for signals from the Philae lander Saturday morning, but think it is unlikely they will establish any kind of communication soon. Controllers at the European Space Agency on Friday ordered the lander to perform a maneuver intended to pull it out of a shadow on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko so that solar panels could recharge the depleted batteries.

"We don't know if the charge will ever be high enough to operate the lander again," said Paolo Ferri, ESA's head of mission operations. "It is highly unlikely that we will establish any kind of communication any time soon, but nevertheless the orbiter will continue to listen for possible signals." On Thursday, Philae landed next to a cliff that largely blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels. Since alighting on the comet, some 311 million miles distant from Earth, the lander has performed a series of tests and sent back reams of data. "Let's stop looking at things that we could have done if everything had worked properly," flight director Andrea Accomazzo said. "Let us look at things that we have done, what we have achieved and what we have on the ground."


- The Associated Press