The current hibernation mode of ESA lander Philae that landed on the surface of comet 67P on Wednesday has come as a disappointment to many members of the public, but not much to the controllers managing the robotic probe because according to them – the Philae has transmitted the most of what is required of it, that is about 80% of its primary assignment before going into idle mode due to depleted battery panels.
The sleep mode of the Philae does not come as much surprise to the scientists at the European Space Agency (EPA) because they fully understand the challenges of the Rosetta mission and the unlikely chances the Philae took in landing on comet, and they had made adequate provisions for most eventualities. They understood the inauspicious terrain of the comet and that the Philae’s battery might run out within days if it landed in the shadows of a cliff – and as much as they fought the chances, the destiny of the Philae lies a little out of hand.
However, ESA admitted that the Philae had completed most of its required tasks before going silent – taking and transmitting photo images of comet’s surface and sorroundings, digging and taking samples for testing in its onboard lab, as well as sending other scientific data that scientists on Earth needed to fully understand their abode.
Although efforts were made to command the lander to shift its position in order to obtain direct sunlight, it is not too clear if the probe was able to respond to the command before its batteries went flat. But ESA’s lander manager maintains in a blog that “all of our instruments could be operated and now it’s time to see what we got.”
Although ESA has promised to continually check for signals from the robot, the handlers state that it would take several weeks and even months to send out any new signals to Earth even if the machine had rotated itself successfully and recharged its battery panels with direct sunlight.