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Philae lander still missing on comet
by Brooks Hays
Paris (UPI) Jan 6, 2015

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Recent reconnaissance efforts by the Rosetta probe failed to turn up new information about the whereabouts of the currently silent Philae lander. The small rover, roughly the size of a dishwasher, is missing somewhere on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's surface.

Earlier this month, Rosetta's mission engineers at the European Space Agency directed the probe to survey a portion of the comet where scientists believe the lander lays dormant. For three days in mid-December, Rosetta captured close up imagery of the assigned crater as it circled the comet at an elevation of 12 miles.

The effort proved fruitless. ESA officials announced this week that scientists have been unable to locate any signs of Philae in the new images.

Still, ESA officials remain confident that their little lander will wake up and make its presence known soon enough. Philae's bouncy November landing made history, but it also positioned the lander in the shadow of a crater wall. Unable to recharge its batteries via its solar panel, Philae was forced into hibernation early.

Researchers believe that as the comet nears the sun, enough light will find its way to the solar panel and power Philae back to life.

"I think within the team there is no doubt that we will wake up," lead lander scientist Jean-Pierre Bibring told reporters late last year at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting. "And the question is OK, in what shape? My suspicion is we'll be in good shape."

Scientists suggest Philae could emerge from its slumber as early as February.

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Comet probe in race against time to crown stellar feat
Paris (AFP) Nov 14, 2014
Europe's deep-space robot lab Philae worked against the clock Friday, attempting to drill into a comet 510 million kilometres (320 million miles) from Earth to crown a historic exploration before its battery runs out. Charged with 60 hours of onboard power, the lander bounced twice after touchdown Wednesday, settling in a crevice in a mystery location, shadowed from battery-boosting sunlight ... read more

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