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Philae is dead: Zero chance of communicating with comet lander, scientists say

by Brandon Russell | February 12, 2016February 12, 2016 8:57 am PDT

Saying good-bye is never easy, even when it’s to a spacecraft that’s millions of miles away. Philae, the intrepid lander that had an epic rendezvous with Comet 67P in 2014, hasn’t made contact with the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission since last July, and it’s looking like scientists are finally ready to give up hope of ever communicating with Philae again.

“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,” said Stephan Ulamec, Philae project manager.

What a sad fate for such an inspiring spacecraft, to be abandoned by your masters as it helplessly floats off into the vastness of space.

“I would be very surprised if we received a signal now,” Ulamec added.

Meanwhile, the Philae Lander’s Twitter account on Friday said it’s not going to give up, but it sounds like it’s just holding on to false hope, as previous attempts to contact Philae have ended in failure. Scientists believe the poor lander is probably covered in dust and unable to function because of the comet’s frigid environment. If only it could get a bit of sun.

Despite its less-than-stellar landing in 2014, Philae has provided scientists with a wealth of information, furthering our understanding of the early universe. It might not be the ending scientists were hoping for, but Philae still fought the good fight. Auf Wiedersehen, Philae.

CNN

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...


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