There is a strong chance Europe’s comet lander will wake up from hibernation as it nears the sun, raising hopes for a second series of scientific measurements from the surface next year, scientists involved in the mission said Monday.
The Philae lander, which became the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet Wednesday, has already sent reams of data back to Earth that scientists are eagerly examining. But there were fears its mission would be cut short because it came to rest in the shadow of a cliff.
Shortly before its primary battery ran out, the European Space Agency decided to attempt to tilt the lander’s biggest solar panel toward the sun — a last-ditch maneuver that scientists believe may have paid off.
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