Comet lander Philae might run out of power soon
Berlin, Nov 14 (IANS) European Space Agency’s comet lander Philae might run out of power soon as it rested in a cliff shadow and could not enjoy enough sunlight, scientists in Darmstadt Germany said Friday.
Philae Lander Manger, Stephan Ulamec confirmed that the probe had activated a drill instrument on board to take samples from a depth of some 20 cms underneath the comet surface, Xinhua reported.
The data could not be sent back to the earth currently as Philae’s mothership Rosetta, which served as a transmitting station for the lander, was under the horizon.
The next contact window would open later in the day.
However, Philae’s battery might be empty before the contacts resumption, he said.
Scientists said pictures sent back by Philae after settling down showed that the lander sat in a shadow of a cliff.
Its secondary battery, which would be the main power supplier after the main battery was used up, could not be charged sufficiently due to a lack of sunlight.
In current location, Philae’s solar panels could only receive sunlight for 1.5 hours per 12.4 hour comet day, while in the original landing site, the illumination could be offered for nearly seven hours.
Ulamec said, once contacts were resumed with Philae, controllers on the earth would try to rotate the lander or to hop it out of the shadow.
Holger Sierks, a scientist oversees the OSIRIS camera on board Rosetta, said Philae’s touchdown and bounces might be observed by Rosetta, but the pictures were still waiting to be downloaded. Scientists would try to use these pictures to locate the lander.
Despite the uncertainties, Philae has conducted several experiments.