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Comet lander Philae wakes up

Published 14/06/2015

Philae landed on the surface of the comet 67P in November (European Space Agency/PA Wire)
Philae landed on the surface of the comet 67P in November (European Space Agency/PA Wire)

Comet lander Philae has woken up from hibernation after being missing for months.

The European Space Agency (Esa) announced the news in a tweet, which read: " Incredible news! My lander Philae is awake!"

It said the probe communicated with the ground team on earth for around 85 seconds last night.

Philae had been in hibernation since November when it became the first spacecraft to touch down on the surface of a comet. It is designed to analyse ice and rock on 67P.

The German Aerospace Centre, which operates Philae, said the lander resumed communication at 10.28pm local time last night, sending about 300 packages of data to earth via its mother ship Rosetta, which is orbiting the comet.

"Philae is doing very well," project manager Stephan Ulamec said.

Shortly after its historic landing, Philae managed to conduct experiments and send data to earth for about 60 hours before its batteries were depleted and it was forced into hibernation.

In January, Esa called off the dedicated search for the probe.

Scientists still do not know precisely where Philae touched down on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, after bouncing twice on the icy comet when its anchoring system failed.

Studies of images taken by the orbiter have shown Philae crossed a large depression named ''Hatmehit'' before coming to rest at an angle close to the wall of a crater or cliff.

Philae's landing on a fast-moving comet 300 million miles away has been hailed as one of humankind's greatest scientific achievements.

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