Hopes for rescue of comet probe
Scientists may have made a breakthrough in their attempts to rescue history-making comet probe Philae.
A report on the spacecraft's verified Twitter feed, Philae Lander @Philae2014, suggests the craft has successfully "hopped" into a new position, possibly one that will enable more sunlight to shine on its solar panels.
The first of two messages at about 11pm read: "I just started lifting myself up a little and will now rotate and try and optimise the solar power."
This was quickly followed by another which said: "My rotation was successful (35 degrees). Looks like a whole new comet from this angle."
Time was running out for Philae, thought to be tipped to one side in the shadow of a crater wall that prevented it recharging its batteries with solar power.
Earlier today scientists said they were actively considering taking a risky gamble by using the probe's landing gear to jump it away from the darkness and into the light.
There were fears that such a manoeuvre might topple the craft over and end its mission.
The Twitter feed also indicates that Philae successfully used its drill to bore out samples from the comet's surface and transmitted the data to Earth.
Scientists are still not sure of the probe's location after Wednesday's rollercoaster landing which saw the dishwasher-sized craft bounce twice before coming to rest more than half a mile from its original landing site.
Two harpoons which were supposed to anchor Philae to the ground failed to deploy, causing the probe to shoot a kilometre (0.6 miles) into space after its initial touchdown.
After two hours suspended above comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko the probe fell back to the surface again and bounced a second time.
The comet is a 2.5-mile wide rugged lump of ice and dust, more than 300 million miles from Earth, strewn with deep pits, craters, cliff walls and jagged outcrops.
It took 10 years for Philae and its Rosetta mothership to reach the comet after an epic journey across four billion miles of space.
Earlier today British Rosetta project scientist Dr Matt Taylor said in an update from the European Space Agency: "We're at the cutting edge of science - science is being done. We haven't got any results yet. But just wait and hang in there. The drill's going down. This is going to be fantastic."