European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully reawakened its fridge-sized robot Philae lander from a deep-space slumber and has a comet in its sight.
ESA’s Philae lander and Rosetta space probe were launched almost 10 years ago into the space atop an Ariane 5 rocket to rendezvous with Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Philae along with its 10 instruments and Rosetta are expected to arrive at the 4-kilometer-wide chunk of ice in August. According to a report by BBC News, Rosetta is currently 655 million kilometers from our planet and 3.8 million kilometers from 67P.
Following completion of some mapping tasks, the Rosetta will release Philae Lander to attach itself to 67P in November.
NASA says the mission is challenging and may heavily impact the space agency’s plans to land astronauts on an asteroid.
Rosetta is moving closer to the Sun again and its handlers are switching on its instruments one at a time. The satellite’s imaging system Osiris will remain on because it’s needed for plotting 67P’s exact position in space. The ESA has released the first images captured by Osiris.
Comet 67P, also known as a “Jupiter class” comet, takes six-and-a-half years to orbit the Sun. Scientists believe the study of the comet would help in learning more about its inner structure along with its nature and composition.