Prepare to have your faith in humanity restored. Philae and the Rosetta spacecraft were more tweeted about after landing than Kim Kardashian’s ass, which was naked in photos from Paper in an attempt to #BreakTheInternet. It’s one small step for social media, one giant leap for humanity.
But the little hero spacecraft Philae may be going to the big comet in the sky sooner than expected. Philae’s landing sequence was slightly botched, and instead of landing straight down from Rosetta and clamping onto the comet it bounced. Twice.
The first bounce lasted close to two hours because of the comet’s weak gravity. The second was, thankfully, shorter. When Philae landed, however, it was not straight up. Photos of Philae taken by Rosetta show that it may have landed on its side with one of its three feet up in the air.
This unfortunate position means only one of Philae’s two solar panels are exposed to sunlight. This means the probe is only receiving 1.5 hours instead of the expected 6-7. Joseph Stromberg for Vox reports that without additional sunlight, the lander’s battery power will only last 64 hours. They hoped that, without further power, they could at least get another link and data download before Philae fell asleep.
Because of the comet’s orbit, the connection with Philae had been lost until Friday morning. Earlier this morning scientists indefinitely lost their connection with Philae after successfully downloading data.
There is hope that Philae may be brought back online when the comet is closer to the Sun and there are more ‘lit’ hours on Philae’s side of the comet. Nonetheless, it’s been an amazing mission that has enraptured the world.
As the first lander on a comet, Philae was a groundbreaking mission that has already given us invaluable data. For example, comets smell a bit like fart. Really, though, it’s managed to drill underneath the surface and collect samples of the particles within and coming off of the comet.
The laast tweet from Philae (@Philae2014) reads “My #lifeonacomet has just begon @ESA_Rosetta. I’ll tell you more about my new home, comet #67P soon… zzzzz #CometLanding.” We can’t wait to hear from you.