European Space Agency

European Space Agency

Everyone’s favorite little comet lander has finally been found. The European Space Agency announced that its Philae lander had been found wedged in a comet.

The ESA’s Rosetta space probe found Philae with just a month left of its mission. According to the ESA, the lander was found “wedged into a dark crack” on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Philae first landed on the comet in 2014.

The ESA said that Philae’s precise location had not been known until Rosetta’s high-resolution camera captured the images. Philae had last been seen when it touched down at Agilkia, according to the ESA. The comet lander eventually made its way to a smaller lobe on the comet before its primary battery was depleted, sending it into hibernation. Philae briefly commuicated with Rosetta last summer as it moved closer to the sun. In July, it even sent a goodbye tweet.

Patrick Martin, ESA’s Rosetta Mission Manager, said in the ESA’s announcement, “We were beginning to think that Philae would remain lost forever. It is incredible we have captured this at the final hour.”

One invaluable piece of scientific data that Philae had collected before it lost power was “16 ‘carbon and nitrogen-rich’ organic compounds, supporting the theory that the building blocks of life could have been brought to Earth by comets,” according to CNN.

Philae Lander Says Farewell Before Space Probe’s Descent

Though the lander has no hope of being revived prior to Rosetta’s descent, its location will help scientists “make better sense of the data” Philae collected in 2014 when it first made contact with the comet.

The Rosetta space probe will descend to the comet’s surface on Sept. 30, marking the end of its 12-year mission.

Social Media Celebrates the Return of Philae

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