Europe's Philae comet lander finally wakes up

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Europe's Philae comet lander finally wakes up

After seven months of not-so-voluntary deep sleep, the comet lander Philae has finally woken up in earnest. The European Space Agency got in contact with its explorer for 85 precious seconds late on June 13th, receiving 300-plus data packets that shed light on what happened following the machine's bumpy touchdown. As it turns out, Philae came back to life at least temporarily during its forced hibernation -- it just couldn't get back in touch with its Rosetta host ship and thus the ground crew.

This doesn't necessarily mean that everything is back on track. Philae still has yet to send over 8,000 data packets that will say what happened over the past few days, for a start. And while the lander appears healthy right now, it'll likely take some time before the ESA knows for sure that it's smooth sailing from here on out. Researchers will need sustained contact before they can make up for a ton of lost time and expand humanity's understanding of how comets work.

[Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab]

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