A tiny spacecraft called Philae was landed on a massive comet in November, only to disappear from scientists' sights - until now.
After months of desperately searching the depths of space, the European Space Agency has reported that it may have located its missing comet lander, Philae. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Philae was the first spacecraft to ever land on the surface of a comet, but has been hiding from scientists ever since its first touchdown in November.
The European Space Agency reported on Thursday that scientists had scoured images and data pulled from both Philae and its mother ship, Rosetta looking for clues. They had identified several potential locations, including a curious bright spot that may prove to be the location of the missing lander.
After a rough landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Philae was able to send back a brief series of photos and data before its battery drained and the little craft powered down.
The lander bounced and skipped across the comet’s dusty surface and finally crawled to a halt somewhere next to a overhang, blocking scientists’ view of the craft. The lander is currently blocked from the sunlight, which scientists believe is preventing the solar panels from providing a new charge. Some are hopeful that as the comet follows its orbit, its position will shift and expose Philae’s panels to much-needed sunlight.
ESA scientists will keep their eye on the massive comet, in the hopes that they will not have to start over from scratch on their experiments.
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