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Philae comet landing Stephan Ulamec

Lack of power

14 Nov, 2014

Philae’s battery may not last beyond Saturday due to its position on the comet, which is causing shadows to fall across its solar panels. Philae’s drill is being deployed to its maximum extent despite a risk of toppling Philae, as it tries to get core samples as quickly as possible to analyze in its onboard lab. Ulamec:

The drill has been active today. Whether it will sample and will succeed in bringing these samples to [laboratory] ovens – we shall know this evening. This would be fantastic but it is not secured – maybe the battery will be empty before we get contact again.

He says engineers are working on potential solutions to boost power:

We plan to rotate the lander a little bit so that at the position where we have now this one panel that gets sun, we’ll have a slightly larger panel and this would increase the chance that at a later stage the lander could wake up again and start talking to us again.

ESA may also start up Philae’s flywheel mechanism, which was used to keep it stable during descent, or shift its legs to bump it upwards, as even a small amount of force in the low gravitational field on 67P could bump it into a spot with more sunlight.