The New York Times is reporting this morning that spacecraft Rosetta’s Philae lander, which bounced onto the surface of a comet last November and into a mostly shadowed position, has gathered enough sunlight to begin waking up. It was able to contact Rosetta yesterday.
Researchers still don’t know the lander’s exact location but have narrowed the search to this elliptical area on the comet’s head:
The article includes many more photos of the comet that I’d not seen before — spectacular photos with captions that prompt me to ask: How, in deep space with no gravity and no reference points, do scientists agree on what is “up” or “down”?
Regardless, I think the photos are breathtaking … beginning with this one:
That the lander is waking up is exciting news. But for me the most remarkable achievement was catching a comet after a ten-year chase and landing something on its surface. The logistics involved are mind-numbing and awe-inspiring.