ESA Philae Comet Lander Back in Contact with Earth

Terry Olaes

I Used to be the [H] News Guy
Joined
Nov 27, 2006
Messages
4,640
Remember the European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander that went dark last year? Well, it’s baaaaaack and talking to Earth again. If only my phone was smart enough to renegotiate its connection when it gets stuck on 3G and LTE becomes available.

The communications with Earth - over a distance of 305 million km - have so far been very short, lasting just a matter of a few tens of seconds. A first contact came on Saturday; a second was received on Sunday. Friday's is also very brief - two individual connections lasting two minutes each.
 

pxc

Extremely [H]
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Oct 22, 2000
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There was a different article written by an ESA engineer about how these last several months of silence could have been avoided if Philea would have had a nuclear power source. It wasn't a serious consideration because the ESA doesn't have such a design, and would easily cave on protests for considering using one.

Regardless, that's still a pretty impressive mission. Despite multiple failures (gas jets for landing and anchor harpoon didn't work), they still managed to get it down, do some work and transmit data back.
 

B00nie

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
8,281
Remember the European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander that went dark last year? Well, it’s baaaaaack and talking to Earth again. If only my phone was smart enough to renegotiate its connection when it gets stuck on 3G and LTE becomes available.
Hmm my iPhone negotiates LTE just fine. Another reason to avoid droid? :D
 

Grahamkracka

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Feb 4, 2008
Messages
1,052
There was a different article written by an ESA engineer about how these last several months of silence could have been avoided if Philea would have had a nuclear power source. It wasn't a serious consideration because the ESA doesn't have such a design, and would easily cave on protests for considering using one.

Regardless, that's still a pretty impressive mission. Despite multiple failures (gas jets for landing and anchor harpoon didn't work), they still managed to get it down, do some work and transmit data back.
Nobody makes PU238 anymore. We were buying the stuff from the Russians until they broke that deal off a few years go. The US hasn't made any (in significant amounts) since the late 80's and we only have enough to last through the current decade IIRC.
 

Eradan

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 7, 2006
Messages
1,150
Remember the European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander that went dark last year? Well, it’s baaaaaack and talking to Earth again. If only my phone was smart enough to renegotiate its connection when it gets stuck on 3G and LTE becomes available.
Yes, I remembered it several days ago when this was in the real news. Nice job with the cut and paste though.
 

Xrave

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jun 29, 2004
Messages
7,066
The RTG power source satellites (nuclear power source) only have cost feasibility when the mission is planned to last many years at extreme distances from the sun.

Philae was designed to work near the sun and only for about a year before the comet started heading back to the outer solar system.

You design the probe based on how you expect it to operate. You don't over design, which adds mainly mass/cost, on contingency operational situations.
 

pxc

Extremely [H]
Joined
Oct 22, 2000
Messages
33,064
Nobody makes PU238 anymore. We were buying the stuff from the Russians until they broke that deal off a few years go. The US hasn't made any (in significant amounts) since the late 80's and we only have enough to last through the current decade IIRC.
From 2013:

http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/...propulsion/nasa-pay-entire-pu-238-production/

NASA will have to pay for the entire cost of plutonium-238 production, which was resumed a few months ago by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) after almost 25 years.

“Since the [Obama] Administration has a ‘user pays’ philosophy, we are now in a position to pay for basically the entire enterprise, including the base infrastructure at the DOE,” NASA chief financial officer Beth Robinson said in an April 10 press conference. “We’ll be partnering with DOE in the next couple of months to figure out how to best do this, and how to streamline the program to produce plutonium-238.”
 
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