Environment & Science

Comet-hugging lander sends back data, despite dying battery

The ESA released this composite panoramic image showing Philae's surroundings on Comet 67P. To illustrate the lander's orientation, the agency superimposed a sketch of the craft.
The ESA released this composite panoramic image showing Philae's surroundings on Comet 67P. To illustrate the lander's orientation, the agency superimposed a sketch of the craft.
/ESA Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

It's not dead yet! Mission Control has re-established contact with the Philae lander, which is perched on a comet.

"That's quite a feat," NPR's Geoff Brumfiel tells our Newscast Desk. "Philae was supposed to land on a nice flat surface where it could get plenty of solar power — but it bounced and ended up in the shadow of a cliff. So its batteries are running low."

Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet and study it, is still sending back scientific data. Today's accomplishments include:

The first comet drilling.

It did a little dance.

Power is running low quickly without enough sunlight, the European Space Agency reports on its blog.

But Brumfiel says the mission has already been a success, with all of the data it's been able to send back: "This thing has really had a bright — if slightly short — life on the comet."