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Rosetta's Philae Lander Is In Trouble [Updated]


Update 1, 11:00 a.m. 11/14/2014

Faced with a missing lander and a limited battery life, ESA scientists are trying out a risky maneuver. Philae is deploying its drill today, in hopes of securing and analyzing at least one soil sample from the comet. The lander may be keeled over on its side, however, so the spinning 10-inch drillbit could make it do a cartwheel instead--which could end the mission or put the probe in a better position to receive sunlight.

If Philae is still alive after the drilling, ESA may pursue a few other last-ditch efforts to get the lander standing, including attempting to fire the thrusters and/or harpoons again, and/or moving the landing legs to try to bounce it to a sunnier locale.

The lander's solar panels are receiving a little sunlight, but it's not enough, and the battery could die anytime over the next few days.

The next time ESA will have an opportunity to communicate with Philae will be this evening. If the battery still has enough juice to send out a signal, scientists will have a clearer idea as to whether the soil analysis worked, and whether there's any hope of repositioning the probe.

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