A space probe comes back to life seven months after scientists believed it was marooned on a comet unable to get enough sunlight for power. Paul Chapman reports.
The Philae (Fee-lay) space probe's been slumbering peacefully for seven months, considered a lost cause by the scientists who launched it. A botched landing put the solar powered craft on the right comet but in the wrong place - deep in the shadows unable to get enough sunlight. Now, and unexpectedly, it's sprung back to life. It's only delivered a quick 85 second 'hello' but project manager Stephen Ulamec says that's promising. (SOUNDBITE)(English) 'PHILAE' PROJECT MANAGER STEPHEN ULAMEC SAYING: "We got housekeeping data on the status, temperature, power as generated by the solar generator, so it appears the lander is healthy, it's operational, and we will work now in the coming days on getting longer slots, longer communication slots, and then we hope also to command again the scientific instruments and get more signs from the cometary surface with the instruments." The probe was released from its mother ship in November. It should have been the climax of a ten-year mission for the European Space Agency. Instead harpoons intended to anchor it to the comet surface failed to deploy and it bounced twice before floating to rest two hours later in the worst place it could have found.