The German scientists behind the intrepid Rosetta space mission have given up hope of re-establishing communications with its Philae lander. The probe, which landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has been silent since July 2015, and the team from the German Aerospace Center are now pessimistic that it will be able to wake it up.
“Unfortunately, the probability of Philae re-establishing contact with our team at the DLR Lander Control Center is almost zero, and we will no longer be sending any commands,” Stephan Ulamec, Philae Project Manager of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), said in a statement. “It would be very surprising if we received a signal now.”
While DLR has ceased any further attempts to communicate with Philae, the Rosetta mothercraft will continue to orbit 67P until September. So, if the little lander does wake up in the next seven months, Rosetta will still be listening:
— Philae Lander (@Philae2014) February 12, 2016
The Rosetta space mission was overseen by the European Space Agency (ESA), with help from NASA. Rosetta chased 67P across our solar system for ten years, eventually rendezvousing with the comet in August 2014. Philae was launched at the comet on 12th November, 2014, and, despite its harpoon system failing, the probe successfully landed on its surface.
“The Philae mission was one-of-a-kind – it was not only the first time that a lander was ever placed on a comet’s surface, but we also received fascinating data,” Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board and a participating scientist on the mission, added. “Rosetta and Philae have shown how aerospace research can expand humankind’s horizon and make the public a part of what we do.”