Waiting for Philae: Comet Lander Still Sleeping, Scientists Say

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The Philae lander, which made history when it touched down on the surface of a distant comet last November, has yet to wake from a deep slumber it entered when its power ran out shortly after its rough landing, German space scientists said Friday. Trouble with Philae's landing systems caused it to bounce out of its target area, settling in a spot that unfortunately provided little sunlight for its solar panels. After sending data to the Rosetta orbiter for a little over two days, Philae entered sleep mode until such a time as it might receive enough solar radiation to boot up again.

The German Aerospace Center team thought that time might be during this last week — the lander is receiving about twice as much sun as it was in November — but repeated attempts to contact Philae have produced no response. Scientists are not discouraged, though.

"It was a very early attempt," explained project manager Stephan Ulamec in a news release. "We will repeat this process until we receive a response from Philae. We have to be patient."

Early April should provide the next good chance for the orbiter to contact Philae, which gives the lander another couple weeks to rest up.

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