Philae, the brave little comet lander that captured our hearts last year, has probably fallen silent for good. After a final, desperate effort to contact the spacecraft over the weekend didn't pan out, the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) reports that the chances of ever speaking to the probe again are slim — and they're growing slimmer every day.
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"EXCLUSIVE: Could this asteroid destroy Earth in just SIX weeks?" According to NASA, the answer is "absolutely not, you imbeciles".
This brand new image from the OSIRIS scientific imaging camera of European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft reveals two fascinating things. First, we have an incredibly detailed view of the surface of Comet 67P. Second, look at that fuzzy, dark patch at the bottom of the photo — it's the shadow of the spacecraft itself!
Rosetta's lander is hibernating on a comet now, waiting for a brighter sun. The mission's scientists, though, have been hard at work, scrutinising reams of data and predicting how the lander could wake up. At the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting today, Rosetta's scientists dropped some intriguing hints of what's to come.
Last month, the European Space Agency landed on a comet 482 million kilometres away to take samples that could help unravel our solar system's origins. It turns out there are pieces of comets closer to home too. Scientists have just found comet dust preserved in the frozen reaches of Antarctica.
Until now, all photos of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko have been in greyscale. According to a research paper that will be presented at the American Geophysical Union's 2014 Fall Meeting, you are looking at its first true colour photo, taken with Rosetta's OSIRIS camera.
Briefly: All photos from space are cool, but this photo of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is simply masterful, the most spectacular of all the photos of the comet so far. Worthy of a Kubrick movie frame.
Goodnight, Philae, though not, we hope, goodbye. The lander is now in sleep mode, keeping "all instruments and most systems on board shut down." Thankfully, engineers managed to gather all the collected comet data before Philae's batteries were depleted. If we're lucky, it may wake up when it gets closer to the Sun.