Researchers Say Farewell to Philae Lander

Scientists said Friday that they have stopped sending commands to the Philae space probe, which became the first space vehicle to touch down on a comet more than a year ago. The German Aerospace Center, or DLR, said it last made contact with the lander July 9, but efforts since then have failed.

Conditions on comet 67-P have become so cold, falling below minus 180 degrees Celsius or minus 292 Fahrenheit at night - that the washing-machine-sized probe couldn't function.

After ten years of space travel, the probe made a rocky landing in November of 2014, eventually bouncing to a shady area of the comet where sunlight couldn't reach and re-charge the probe's solar panels. Before it stopped communicating, Philae sent back a flurry of data, including taking surface images and studies of the comet's environment. The mother craft, Rosetta, will continue scientific measurements until September.

Instructional Links

Diagram: German Aerospace Center, Rosetta Lander Philae

Website Article: European Space Agency, Rosetta and Philae, One Year After Landing on a Comet

Video: Bill Nye the Science Guy, Comets and Meteors

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