For the first time in seven long months, the Philae lander from the European Space Agency (ESA) has woken up and sent a signal to Earth.
Last November, the Philae landed on a comet known as 67P, thanks to the help of the Rosetta carrier ship. But a few days in to the exploration, the lander ran out of power and had to power off.
Fortunately however, the lander is equipped with solar panels capable of re-charging the built-in battery, so for scientists, it's just a matter of waiting and being patient for the lander to soak enough power from the sun.
It was unknown when exactly the Philae would capture enough sunlight to be able to power back on again, but a surprise Saturday morning left scientists with a signal lasting approximately 85 seconds that was relayed to Rosetta from Philae.
"I'm not really surprised it happened, but if you wait for several months and then suddenly in the middle of the night you get a call saying 'we have a signal from Philae,' it's exciting," project manager Stephan Ulamec said in a comment. "We're very happy."
The signal carried good news too; it told scientists that the lander was "doing well" and all systems were working as expected. About 300 packets were received.
"Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available," Ulamec continued. "The lander is ready for operations."
With the current charge from the Sun, and all of the light the lander is expected to get in coming months, it is expected that Philae is said to be operational until at least this October, which should provide scientists with enough time to search for discoveries and some answers to unanswered questions.
Scientists are going to be taking full advantage of the current activity of the comet, which is said to be in its most active phase right now, and it should be interesting to see what they can uncover.