Philae comet lander goes to sleep as batteries near end

The Philae comet lander has gone into a sleep mode after being unable to get enough sunlight to recharge its batteries, the European Space Agency has reported. This follows a hiccup with landing that caused Philae to bounce off the comet's surface and eventually land elsewhere, with its final resting place being a position where it isn't able to get adequate sunlight. A ray of hope remains, however, as the mission controllers were able to rotate Philae enough before going idle that it may get more sunlight than previously available.

On the Philae Lander Twitter account, a joint tweet was posted reading, "My #lifeonacomet has just begun @ESA_Rosetta. I'll tell you more about my new home, comet #67P soon... zzzzz #CometLanding."

Says the ESA, contact can no longer be made with Philae unless it manages to get enough sunlight to power back up. On November 15 its orbiter will "listen for a signal", says the ESA, but the future for the lander is uncertain at this point in time. The agency praised Philae's success, saying, "This machine performed magnificently under tough conditions, and we can be fully proud of the incredible scientific success Philae has delivered."

Before going into the idle mode, Philae did manage to transmit the data it gathered as part of its First Science Sequence, it was confirmed. Though hibernating for now, the mission itself is still ongoing, and hopefully enough sunlight will reach it soon to get everything back on track.

SOURCE: European Space Agency