Philae (comet lander)

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This article is about the spacecraft. For other uses of the term Philae, please see Philae (disambiguation).

Philae is a European Space Agency device[1] which landed on the nucleus of a comet on 12th November 2014, the first time in history that this had been achieved. Philae initially bounced off the surface, ultimately coming to rest in a position that did not allow enough sunlight to reach its solar panels, so ceased sending back data after three days, when its batteries ran out.[2] Its harpoons and screws also failed to anchor it to the surface, which was much harder than expected.[3]

As part of a wider mission to investigate comet activity, Philae was launched on 2nd March 2004 with the Rosetta spacecraft, which took up a position in orbit of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko prior to releasing the lander.

Footnotes

  1. ESA: 'The Rosetta lander'. 16th January 2014.
  2. ESA Rosetta Blog: 'Our lander's asleep'. 15th November 2014.
  3. ESA Rosetta Blog: 'Philae settles in dust-covered ice'. 18th November 2014.