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How comet lander Philae got into hole lot of trouble

By John von Radowitz

Published 31/07/2015

Celebrated comet lander Philae dropped into a hole about its own size just three feet from a towering cliff, scientists have revealed.

Newly published data from the mission show the craft was also surrounded by boulders up to a metre wide and came to rest with one of its three feet pointing up.

Standing in partial shadow, the washing machine-sized probe was unable to keep itself warm or generate sufficient electricity from its solar panels, and shut down.

In June scientists said it had awoken from hibernation seven months after bouncing dramatically onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

More light was thought to be reaching its solar panels as the comet travelled closer to the sun.

Experts analysing a wealth of information from Philae have reported some of their first results in the latest edition of Science.

The probe's seven cameras showed what happened after it left the orbiting Rosetta mothership on November 12.

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