Airbus Defence and Space

Philae wakes from deep sleep

The lander, travelling on board Rosetta through space towards its target comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, woke up from hibernation 10 days ago.

Although engineers sent the command designed to wake up the Philae lander to the probe at 06:00 hours GMT, everyone in the control room of the DLR Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC) in Cologne knew they were in for a long wait – the time window for the much awaited response was not until between 13:00 and 14:40 hours. The moment of truth came at exactly 14:36 hours GMT! Philae had been successfully activated by radio command from a distance of 655 million kilometres. On-board computer, software, and heating systems – everything appeared to be working.

During the next four weeks, the lander itself, all its subsystems and the ten instruments it carries on board will be activated and thoroughly tested. Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Airbus Defence and Space) in Friedrichshafen is responsible for technical support of the Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander.

If all goes well, Rosetta will deploy the three-legged lander onto the comet’s surface in November, where it will spend several months examining the structure and properties of the comet.

The probe and lander still have to travel nearly four million kilometres before they reach their destination, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.


Picture caption:

Bild 1: The moment of truth: Philae sends first data.

Bild 2: Standing from left: Georg Abt from Airbus Defence and Space, who integrated and tested the lander, Prof Bernd Feuerbacher, one of the Philae co-initiators, and ESA scientist Gerhard Schwehm, are delighted by the good news from deep space.

Bild 3: Unassuming, but still the gate to the heavens: the DLR Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC) in Cologne.


Contact: Gunther Lautenschläger

Space SystemsRosetta