The robotic probe from the European Space Agency that landed on a comet has been sending back some stunning images, but the Philae lander may be in trouble. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington D.C.
It’s a race against time for the lander, which is thought to be now resting near a rock formation that is blocking sunlight from hitting the solar panels that power its generator. It has enough power to operate until sometime Saturday. Until then, it continues collecting data on the comet’s surface.
Philae lander in jeopardy of losing power before completing missionThe robotic probe from the European Space Agency that landed on a comet has been sending back some stunning images, but the Philae lander may be in trouble. CCTV America's Jim Spellman had this reported this story from Washington D.C.
“We are not sure whether the batteries still have enough energy so that we can transmit these data,” said Stephan Ulamec, head of operations for Philae.
The lander has deployed a drill to sample and analyze the comet’s surface, but the lander’s updates may never make it back to earth.
“We saw already the drill going down until 25 centimeters from the base plate so the mechanism has worked, but unfortunately we have lost the link and we have no more data,” said Philippe Gaudon, project manager for the Rosetta mission.
When the Philae lander hit the comet, surface harpoons that should have secured the lander to the surface failed to fire and the craft bounced, touching down about a kilometer away from its intended landing zone. Engineers considered trying to manually fire the harpoons, but have decided against it.