Update from ESA’s Main Control Room: as mentioned in today’s ESAHangout, ground controllers are planning to issue a ‘turn command’ to Philae later this evening.
The aim will be to rotate Philae’s main body in the hopes of exposing one of the larger solar panels to the meagre sunlight that is falling on one of the smaller ones.
“The rotation of the lander’s body could result in more power if one of the larger solar panels can catch the illumination that is falling on the smaller,” says ESA’s Mark McCaughrean, senior science advisor.
“All things being equal, the same amount of sunlight falling on a larger panel should result in more power being generated.”
Animation showing Philae body turning
The command to make the turn will be uploaded sometime after Rosetta establishes contact with the lander, expected to happen any time now.
Philae’s planned mission is expected to come to an end when batteries are exhausted sometime on Saturday; future contacts are possible if the illumination conditions change as the comet orbits closer to the Sun, enabling solar power to flow again.
The Rosetta orbiter mission continues as planned, with an immense amount of science observations still to come.