The Philae Comet lander is awake after 7 months of hibernation
June 14, 2015 6:22 AM   Subscribe

ESA's comet lander is awake! ESA's Philae comet lander touched down but lost contact shortly after landing about 7 months ago. The comet it landed on has traveled closer to the sun, allowing the lander to charge it's battery enough to contact Earth. Huzzah!
posted by amy27 (73 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hurrah for the brave little space-robot!
posted by Artw at 6:27 AM on June 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've gotta say NASA's doing an amazing job with the personification of all the little bleepers and bloopers they're shooting all over space. I got a little choked up when I read this this morning, thinking of the lonely little robot stuck in a freezing dark canyon way off in the cold confines of damn near the middle of nowhere. And I'm 41.
posted by nevercalm at 6:40 AM on June 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


Yay! And I'm 47.
posted by Gorgik at 6:45 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, hell, I sometimes need to take a nap immediately on landing after a long trip too.

(Yay!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 AM on June 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


Great news, I can't wait to hear what it has to say!
posted by Zonker at 6:47 AM on June 14, 2015


I can't handle all the space robot personification. I am way too much of a crouton-petter. I had to start avoiding the Philae story when it was shutting down and I'll probably keep avoiding it, which is annoying because the science is interesting, but I cannot handle the little robot all alone *sob*
posted by corvine at 6:52 AM on June 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've gotta say NASA's ESA's doing an amazing job

TFTFY
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:53 AM on June 14, 2015 [30 favorites]


I know you guys think this is exciting but I'm hear to remind you that it also kind of sounds like the beginning of a space horror film. Wait until the lander starts transmitting an incomprehensible signal that turns ESA's ground control into a nightmare zone of flesh eating lunatics.
posted by selfnoise at 6:54 AM on June 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


Yay, little space washing machine!
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:54 AM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've gotta say NASA's doing an amazing job with the personification of all the little bleepers and bloopers they're shooting all over space.

I believe this one is "E", not "NA".
posted by advil at 6:54 AM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


It awoke, and was aware.
posted by jadepearl at 6:55 AM on June 14, 2015


Philae probably heard how long the Mars rovers have outdone their expected lifespans, and out of irritation it's been giving ESA the silent treatment --- sort of like toddler saying they'll hold their breath and turn blue. But, yeah: every toddler eventually has to breathe again.
posted by easily confused at 6:58 AM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


xkcd's update
posted by BigCalm at 7:04 AM on June 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


Continued radio contact should now allow precise coordinates to be determined, correspondents say.

Also, sounds like they're going to try drilling again. Drilling into a comet!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:05 AM on June 14, 2015


A thing like that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:10 AM on June 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Philae you can't just bounce back into my life after seven months. I'm going to need time before I can believe you won't just disappear again.

Send me some photos, so I can believe what you beep is true.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 AM on June 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


Oh wow, this is great. It makes me feel... almost European.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:15 AM on June 14, 2015


Opened the thread to see what the opposite of "." was. Hmmm. Guess I have to come up with one.

+
posted by acrasis at 7:17 AM on June 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yay! I can work with that.

+
posted by Autumn Leaf at 7:20 AM on June 14, 2015


! is typographically related, stands for logical-not (the opposite of) in many computer languages, and carries suitable natural language connotations.
posted by wotsac at 7:23 AM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


From the BBC page:

Comet 67P is currently 205 million km (127 million miles) from the Sun, and getting closer.

It is due in August to get as close as 186 million km, before then sweeping back out into the outer Solar System.


The last xkcd update about the plucky little space-washing-machine is going to be heart-breaking.
posted by illongruci at 7:27 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


+
posted by Wordshore at 7:28 AM on June 14, 2015


Yeah, but + has a 'He is Risen' vibe to it.
posted by Peter J. Prufrock at 7:28 AM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


!
posted by fairmettle at 7:30 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Number 5 Philae is alive! Huzzah!
posted by nubs at 7:30 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quite apart from the personification and the delight of the updated Twitter feeds and everything (which I'm a total sucker for), this is an incredible testament to the engineering skill of the ESA. Seven months in hard vacuum with a flat battery at incredibly low temperatures and Philae just woke up like it ain't nothing. I hope none of the hardware has been damaged and they manage to fulfil their full roster of experiments.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:31 AM on June 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Transmitting the feels from the depths of space.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


So... silent Running and Wall-E double bill in FanFare?
posted by Artw at 7:38 AM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


The landing thread, which includes the lander going into hibernation.
posted by nubs at 7:39 AM on June 14, 2015


!+!+!+!+!+!+!+!+!+!+!+!
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eeeeee! :)
posted by mazola at 7:55 AM on June 14, 2015


Great news, I can't wait to hear what it has to say!

"Wish you were here!"
posted by mazola at 7:56 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had to start avoiding the Philae story when it was shutting down and I'll probably keep avoiding it, which is annoying because the science is interesting, but I cannot handle the little robot all alone *sob*
During the Chernobyl disaster three divers were sent down to open the sluice gates to evacuate water from below the reactor and to avoid the biblical-level disaster that that would ensue if the reactor melted through the floor.

They knew they were going to die in horrible ways and still they dived.

So if we're going to personify space robots then shouldn't the best of humanity's traits be on the menu too?

Or in other words...

Philae Lander: "Don't worry Corvine, I got this"
posted by fullerine at 7:57 AM on June 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


Go, robot, go!
posted by puffyn at 7:58 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


+++++ woo hoo!!!
posted by andendau at 8:06 AM on June 14, 2015


+
posted by Fizz at 8:10 AM on June 14, 2015


Yeah, but + has a 'He is Risen' vibe to it.

Philae rebooted for your sins.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:15 AM on June 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's been awake for a while, as there's apparently quite a lot of data to upload. Don't know how long that will take, as Rosetta's orbit regularly takes it out of Philae contact, but expect a lot of updates soon on where it is, what it's been doing and what it might do next.

I know that when it shut down in November - oh, that desperate watching the battery voltage! - and the controllers said that they had hope it would revive later, I had no great expectation that it would. The odds seemed slim. It was out of sunlight, nobody knew where, and nobody really knew how the comet would behave as it warmed up.

So, wow. What great news.
posted by Devonian at 8:37 AM on June 14, 2015


Forgot About Philae
posted by ethansr at 8:56 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I juuuuuuust finished "The Martian" before I hopped on the internet and saw Philae is alive! And transmitting! SO MANY FEELINGS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:23 AM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain, specifically, why the extreme cold is damaging?
posted by bird internet at 9:30 AM on June 14, 2015


> Can someone explain, specifically, why the extreme cold is damaging?

I believe it's related to the battery technology - (e.g. http://electronicdesign.com/power/operating-conditions-get-tougher-li-ion-batteries ) though might be wrong!
posted by BigCalm at 9:34 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


but I cannot handle the little robot all alone *sob*

I think they're doing it rong. Philae isn't a cute little thing on a lonely never-ending journey on which it will never come home.

Philae is a brave explorer, who doesn't want to come home, ever, whose mission is to see and report and do so forever if it can. It's cut from the same cloth as Pioneer and Voyager, and if it could shoot out of the sun's gravity well on a long trip out into infinity it'd jump at the chance.
posted by JHarris at 9:36 AM on June 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


Hurrah for the brave little space-robot!

I have no idea why but I read this in Dr. Zoidberg's voice

"space robut!"
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


SPACE FEELINGS, ROBOT EMOTIONS, SEND HELP
posted by poffin boffin at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


MESSAGE REPEATS
posted by poffin boffin at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yay! It reminds me of the wall-e crying girl story from old-time metafilter, which I can't seem to find with a couple minutes of googling.

It's always fascinated me that just that video makes me have the same reaction sympathetically, and I've never even seen the movie and can't see what she's seeing.
posted by ctmf at 10:06 AM on June 14, 2015


Are you riding a comet to the sun and you just woke up? #thuglife
posted by adept256 at 10:12 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Philae should have had its last transmission end with "I'll be back."

Of course then we'd have to deal with multiple reboots and an evil lander made of liquid metal, so perhaps it's for the best.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:14 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Its exact location on the duck-shaped comet...

...or is it 100 comet-shaped ducks?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:17 AM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also have a lot of feelings about the robots we send into space, to the point where the XKCD comic linked above made me a little teary eyed, and this tumblr post makes me burst into happy tears every. single. time.
we built robots?

and we gave them names and we gave them brains made out of silicon and we pretended they were people and we told them hey you wanna go exploring, and of course they did, because we had made them in our own image

and maybe in a hundred years we won’t be around any more, maybe yeah the planet will be a mess and we’ll all be dead, and if other people come from the stars we won’t be around to meet them and say hi! how are you! we’re people, too! you’re not alone any more!, maybe we’ll be gone

but we built robots, who have beat-up hulls and metal brains, and who have names; and if the other people come and say, who were these people? what were they like?

the robots can say, when they made us, they called us discovery; they called us curiosity; they called us explorer; they called us spirit. they must have thought that was important.

and they told us to tell you hello.
posted by yasaman at 10:41 AM on June 14, 2015 [48 favorites]


For those in the UK (or capable of being virtually here), the Sky at Night is on at 20:00 BST on BBC4 and will be an update on Rosetta. It was recorded and edited before the Philae news, but presenter Chris Lintott has been tweeting that they were re-editing a couple of hours before transmission. He's also done a web update via laptop cam.
posted by Devonian at 11:11 AM on June 14, 2015


Conveniently every comment is equipped with automatic + and ! Right under posted-by.
posted by Bringer Tom at 11:15 AM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe they should change its name to Lazarus.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:19 AM on June 14, 2015


Seven months of darkness, over 1 AU from the Sun, sounds pretty cold. That's one tough machine!

Taking the opportunity to post this picture, taken by Rosetta. What a view.
posted by topynate at 12:00 PM on June 14, 2015


Philae is alive!

NO DISASSEMBLE!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:01 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I was a programmer of robots like this (and this is just one of a long list of reasons I'm not) I would have any long-term disconnect have the explorer "reawaken" with a completely changed "personality".

"Yo, ESA, how ya doin'?"
posted by maxwelton at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2015


They managed a very creditable edit on Sky at Night. The probe is being illuminated from the top, with that changing to a side over time. It's a good ten degrees warmer than it needs to be, and generating around twenty more watts than the minimum required.

Best bit so far is from the mass spectrometer experiment. Not only did the initial Philae bounce stir up lots of organics from the cometary surface that got analysed during the tumble, but the new location has completely different chemistry - so two for the price of one. Further, had Philae landed and stayed where it was aimed, it would have overheated after a month or so and exploded (that's what they said. Batteries, apparently). Now it's in a shady nook, it could well keep going all the way through perihelion and well out the other side, during the cometary shut-down.

So not only has the plucky little lander done lots more science in its initial hours than anyone expected, it's saved itself from splodydoom and is set fair to do a ton more work than planned. All through a trick shot that even Ronnie The Rocket could pull off.

Respect.
posted by Devonian at 12:32 PM on June 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


"Comet 67P...shit, I'm still only on Comet 67P."
posted by rhizome at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


why the extreme cold is damaging?

In addition to the battery issue mentioned by BigCalm, some other components do not like temperature extremes. Electrolytic capacitors will freeze, and while it's possible to avoid using them it's very difficult to build certain kinds of power distribution systems without them. Semiconductors act differently. Joins like solder connections and the bonds which connect to integrated circuit chips can crack or otherwise misbehave in untested extremes.

All of NASA's Mars landers have had heaters for the electronics because of this. Sojourner, which was too small for a proper heater, had a RTG-like plutonium pellet to keep it warm. Curiosity of course has an actual RTG to power its heater. Spirit and Opportunity have electric heaters which run from the solar panels, and it's generally assumed that insufficient power for the electronics heater was what killed Spirit. It's the heater that gets the rover teams all nervous when Winter is approaching on Mars.

Philae probably gets some benefit from being in vacuum, with only its contact points on the asteroid able to suck heat out of it, but on the other hand it's been in the shade for months. It's pretty impressive that it woke up after all this time. Someone did some pretty good component selection and testing.
posted by Bringer Tom at 1:29 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


♬ It's cold outside

There's no kind of atmosphere

I'm all alone, more or less

Let me fly far away from here

Fun, Fun, Fun, in the Sun, Sun, Sun ♬
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:35 PM on June 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Devonian - thanks for passing that on. I'm laughing out loud with joy.
posted by wotsac at 2:41 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder if someone was sitting at a desk on a long boring saturday rotation in their mission control when suddenly "Bing!"

There must be a whole passel of engineers, scientists, and technicians tickled pink they hard work paid off spades.
posted by nickggully at 4:14 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "tweet" is cute, but I'm a little confused by the actual text of the transmission Esa picked up:
"RLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROP"
Maybe the battery needs a little more time to charge?
posted by uosuaq at 4:36 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Okay, apparently I see everything through a Mad Max: Fury Road lens, this is just my life now.

Philae: I live! I die! I live again!

Rosetta: OPTIMAL.

Ride eternal into Space-Valhalla, tiny Philae!
posted by pseudonymph at 7:27 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Come what may, Philae will die historic on the comet road.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:39 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


"It's no use, V.I.N.CENT! My useful days are finished! But part of me goes with you. You'll never be obsolete. Carry on the tradition. We're the best..."
posted by um at 7:47 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


pseudonymph: "Okay, apparently I see everything through a Mad Max: Fury Road lens, this is just my life now."

Philae (sprays chrome): WITNESS ME!
posted by Happy Dave at 11:14 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]




Why is anyone surprised by this? IIRC when it bounced and ended up in the shadows they said that they were hoping it would reawaken as the comet's angle to the sun changed during its approach.
posted by Gungho at 8:41 AM on June 15, 2015


Well hope is one thing, flying a spaceship all over the solar system, catching a comet and shooting a robot at it, successfully is quite another. No one had any idea what kind of conditions to expect on a comet (well, cols, airless, inhospitable, but y'know)

The whole thing is staggeringly difficult and it looked like the last step had failed, so it's a delight to see the thing up and running.
They hadn't counted it out, no one thought this was impossible, but it wasn't all that likely.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:05 AM on June 15, 2015


Why is anyone surprised by this? IIRC when it bounced and ended up in the shadows they said that they were hoping it would reawaken as the comet's angle to the sun changed during its approach.

Key word being 'hoping'. Months of extreme cold, flat batteries, unknowns about how much sun it would get and from what angle, all of those factors combined meant there was no real telling if it would wake up properly, or be functional if/when it came back into sunlight.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:06 AM on June 15, 2015


Philae signals the Creator... the Creator has not answered. The carbon-units infestation is to be removed from the Creator's planet.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


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