The mission was a massive success, but scientists had hoped to get much more out of Philae.
Is it too late to save the Philae lander?
In 2014, the Rosetta mission by the European Space Agency made history by landing the Philae probe on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — but everything didn’t quite go as planned, according to a Phys.org report.
The mission was still a huge success, but scientists had hoped to get many hours of use out of the Philae lander. That changed when the lander bounced on the surface of the comet and landed in a ravine or crevace that prevented its solar panels from getting enough power from the sun, causing it to lose power quickly and shut down.
It reemerged briefly, sending signals back to Earth six months ago, but those eventually ceased too, and scientists are starting to lose hope of other connecting with Philae again as comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko speeds away from the sun.
July 9 of last year was the last time a signal was detected from Philae, and it’s been silent ever since. Scientists attempted to shake off some dust from its solar panels by sending a command for Philae so spin its flywheel, but there is a possibility the command never got to Philae.
Scientists will continue to make an effort to reach Philae, but hope is fading that they will ever contact the lander again, with one official even calling the move “desperate” according to reports. More than likely, its two radio transmitters have failed.
At the end of January, hope will be entirely lost of further contact with Philae after the comet reaches 185 million miles from the sun, and the temperature dips below minus 51 degrees Celsius. Philae won’t be able to operate at those extreme temperatures.
Still, it was an incredibly successful mission for the most part and helped scientists learn a lot about the building blocks of our solar system, and perhaps life itself.