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Scientists Say 'Good-Bye' to Rosetta's Lander, Philae

First Posted: Feb 13, 2016 09:27 AM EST

It's good-bye for Rosetta's lander, Philae. Scientists have announced that the Philae lander is facing conditions on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from which it is unlikely to recover.

Rosetta will continue its scientific investigations at the comet until September, before its own comet-landing finale. Recently, Rosetta has been balancing science observations with flying that's solely been dedicated to listening for Philae. However, the lander has remained absolutely silent since 9 July 2015.

Philae's team of engineers and scientists have carried out extensive investigations to try to figure out the status of the lander. They pieced together clues since it completed its first set of scientific activities after its historic landing on 12 Nov. 2014.

At that time, Philae failed to fire its harpoons and had to deal with a faulty thruster. After a seven-hour decent, the precise location has yet to be confirmed.  Although the landing was unplanned, the lander was still able to make an impressive array of science measurements, with some even as it was flying above the surface after its first touchdown bounce.

However, there was insufficient light in Philae's new home to charge its secondary batteries. This meant the lander had a limited amount of time before it went completely dark. On the evening of Nov. 14 2014, Philae went into hibernation.

Now, scientists have officially said good-bye to the lander after realizing that the probability of re-establishing contact with Philae is almost zero. Even with this loss of communication, though, researchers were still able to collect valuable data before the lander went silent.

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