We Finally Found the Lost Philae Lander!

Tuesday, 06 September 2016 - 1:41PM
ESA
Science News
Tuesday, 06 September 2016 - 1:41PM
We Finally Found the Lost Philae Lander!
After a long and turbulent journey, we've finally found the lost Philae lander once again. Just a month before the end of its mission, Rosetta imaged the intrepid little lander one last time before taking a kamikaze dive into the comet's surface.




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"With only a month left of the Rosetta mission, we are so happy to have finally imaged Philae, and to see it in such amazing detail," Cecilia Tubiana of the OSIRIS camera team said in a statement.
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In 2014, Philae became the first manmade spacecraft to land on the surface of a comet, completing its science mission for three days before going dark from lack of sunlight. The lander re-established contact again last year once the comet moved closer to the sun, but then went silent once again, and ESA specialists believed that it had been dislodged from its original position and become less exposed to sunlight, making it more difficult to ever communicate with the spacecraft.

Now, the Rosetta team has finally located and snapped photos of the Philae lander, and have shown that it is, indeed, wedged into a crack in the surface of the comet. The images above were taken by the OSIRIS camera on September 2, and clearly show Philae in all its glory. 

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"This remarkable discovery comes at the end of a long, painstaking search," says Patrick Martin, ESA's Rosetta Mission Manager. "We were beginning to think that Philae would remain lost forever. It is incredible we have captured this at the final hour."
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The discovery comes less than a month before the end of Rosetta's mission. On September 30, the spacecraft will descend to the comet's surface and take close-up pictures, at which time it will crash-land on the comet and be destroyed.
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