Rosetta and Philae in contact again

ESA and its Rosetta mission partners have confirmed that another communication link has been made between Rosetta and Philae today.

The signal was transmitted from Rosetta to ESA’s space operations centre in Darmstadt and received at 15:37 CEST on 19 June, and confirmed by the Lander Control Centre at the German Space Centre, DLR. A second signal was received at 15:54 CEST.

The downlink was stable; the two contacts received by Rosetta lasted two minutes each. Both delivered numerous packets of lander housekeeping and status data, 185 in total, which are still being analysed at the time of this writing. No science data were anticipated or received.

“We are very happy to have received signals from the lander again, and we are all working hard towards establishing a robust link between Rosetta and Philae,” comments Patrick Martin, ESA Rosetta mission manager.

This was the first signal received from Philae since 14 June. This was not unexpected, however, due to the pre-planned science operations of the orbiter, and its location around 180 km above the comet’s surface today.

In the meantime, new commands have been uploaded to Rosetta to further adjust its trajectory and distance from the comet to improve the radio visibility between the two spacecraft, with the first sets of thruster burns having taken place this past Wednesday and the next set planned for Saturday morning. The goal is to bring Rosetta to about 177 km from the comet nucleus and keep it in a range of latitudes that maximise opportunities for lander communication.

The Rosetta and Philae teams will be closely monitoring subsequent transmissions between the spacecraft, not only to better determine the health of the lander, but also to understand the length and frequency of available communication timeslots. This information is needed to determine when to upload new commands in order to restart science operations and, similarly, when the data can be downloaded.



  • Andre says:

    I am happy to see philae alive. Could you please try to answer the following questions:
    These housekeeping data pakets were and will be generated all the time. How many pakets are generated during one earth day?
    In which order do you recieve the pakets? Always the newest first? Or the oldest? Or can you decide?
    Thanks and regards. Greetings from Germany.

    • Alex says:

      This is a great question - hope it's answered!

    • Oliver Küchemann says:

      We receive roughly 150TM packets per comet day.
      The Mass Memory Units are basically FIFOs, meaning that we get the oldest data first.

      Grüße aus Köln, direkt aus dem LCC!


      • Andre says:

        Hello Oliver,
        thanx for your answer. I am so curious about whats going on in the future with philae and rosetta. Keep up your work. I really love your work.
        Also making science so literally touching is great. Thank you for beeing so communicative.
        und Grüße ans Lander Control Center aus Dortmund!

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Andre:

      We asked Armelle Hubault, one of the Rosetta engineers, for an answer to this. She replied:

      The number of packets generated during 1 day does not mean much here, as the Lander is active (and generating data) only when it is illuminated.

      It is producing housekeeping data at a rate of 52 bps.
      The maximum speed of the link from Philae to Rosetta is 16 kbps.

      The order the data is sent is First In First Out (at least in the current situation).


      • Andre says:

        Hello Daniel, Armelle,
        thank you for your answer. I really appreciate that. I wish you and the rosetta team all the best. The story of Philae reminds me of the novel 'the martian' where so many people on earth where anxious about the destiny of Mark Watney.

        Thanks again for answering the question.

  • Henk says:

    Epic News! Lets hope the European Space Agency can get communication going once or even 2 times each earth day now (2 comet rotations/days per earth day) and with even higher throughput per contact. That could mean we can start seeing first uploads and first new science by the end of next week or certainly by the end of the month. Which following that would give ESA at least 12 weeks or 3 months!!! of new science operations! And with ever increasing solar power during the first half of that 3 month long period. Likely even 4 months and perhaps even going into 5 months! Which would certainly be enough time to at least get many good pictures (and 3d scans) back from the comet landing site. Now we basically had only 1 very good picture and a few less clear once in the shadows. We should have dozens of good pictures at the minimum. Not to mention increased data on all the other instruments. So exciting. Looks like the high risk of this lander part of the Rosetta mission could now also be paying of in an extremely big way for Science and for ESA accomplishments. Fingers crossed for the coming week.

  • Margarita says:

    Great news - I can stop holding my breath.
    As ever, your promptness in keeping us informed is very, very much appreciated. I saw the tweets and followed the links here.

  • Rok says:


    Any idea when we could expect to see more solid upload/download sessions?

  • Joksmar says:

    Thanks for the info. Waiting the power levels and temperature, I wish all good.

  • harald says:

    Those cartoon drawings are so epic, please consider to make a big blogstory about the people creating them.

  • Dave says:

    Thanks Claudia - really appreciate these updates! please keep them coming as often as you can as there are plenty of us on planet earth eagerly anticipating the next piece of Philae news and you are our primary link to updates regarding Rosetta and the plucky lander. Whatever info you can glean from the ESA team, please post it as soon as you are able. Cheers.

  • Emil says:

    I wander if the team is planning for making some "jumps" and moving the lander to a more pleasant place. Maybe when there is enough scientific data and when the charging conditions are going bad anyway. I don't see a reason not to try if the lander is approaching its end and most of the scientific goals are achieved. This could prolong the mission by a month or two and we may get better pictures.

    • Dash says:

      Emil...from what I gather Philae would already be dead (March) if it has landed as foreseen in the open. Where it is (sheltered) it will not get so much radiation (=heat) and it may carry on working for quite a long time. If it gets enough power to charge the batteries it would be great. I don't think the lander can "jump" - Claudia / ESA can you clarify?

    • Harvey says:

      It has no ability to 'jump'. It can rotate it's body and lift it a little, but has no mechanism to 'jump'. The previous 'jumps' we're just bounces.
      The gravity is so low that use of any mechanical device, such as the drill, or lift/rotation, could make the lander move in a probably very unpredictable way. More likely topple over than 'jump', so hazardous.

      • Daniel says:

        Well they were considering "jumping" in November, so I'd think its fair to call it jump. Maybe the mechanism to lift/lower the body would able to generate enough force to carry out some kind of jump? It's either that or the flywheel that would be responsible. As you say though, unpredictable.
        I have to admit that I too am curious if they would consider taking the risk. Especially when winter starts approaching again when lack of sunlight will become an issue that would doom the lander anyway.

  • João Prates says:

    Great news, congrats to all ESA teams working on this mission!

    The big question for me is to know if the rate/pace of energy spending is greater or lesser than the recharging rate.

    One needs to remember that it took 7 months of minor solar irradiation to bring Philae back to life, but it could just take a matter of days or even hours to exhaust the battery again, and hence repeat the hibernation cycle.

    Too many communications with nothing to say except house keeping is not a good thing. Radio consumes power, we need to use it wisely.

    Cheers all,


    • Luke Collie says:

      As I understand it, the battery is not being used at all at the moment. It has to be warmed up before it will accept charging, and this hasn't been tried yet. Each comet day (12.4 hr) Philae moves into sunlight, power increases until it boots up, then increases further until it can use the radio. If it detects a signal from Rosetta, it replies, tries to establish a data link, and reports on its status. Then the shadows move round and reduce available power again, until it has to go back into hibernation. This will repeat until a sufficiently reliable link can be established to tell Philae to do something else.

      • Denis says:

        I think that's correct, until now all operations are being done directly on solar array power, during the 'day'.

        From the press conference on Wednesday, they explained that first science measurements will be done like that, without using the battery at all.
        Philae detects the day/night cycle and can be programmed to perfom specific measurements each day, saving the data when night is approaching. After a few days, connection with Rosetta is established to dump all the data collected over the last few days.

        The battery is only needed for the more power-hungry operations (like drilling). In that case, they need to spend one (or more) days charging the battery, then one day doing the drilling using both solar array and battery power.

    • masanori says:

      But in fact. it seems too many news medias are reporting that as the comet has got closer to The Sun, Philae finally became able to recharge the battery enough to boot. Something we very often see in today's news media, isn't it.

  • Alex McClymont says:

    Amazing news!! Do you have any documentary companies working with you?(Horizon for example) It would be great to see a two hour special at some point.

  • Raargh says:

    So ... no one at ESA reading these comments or replying?

  • Rod says:

    Given the larger size debris that apparently orbits comets, does Rosetta have some sort of close proximity radar or detection system that will let it automatically change direction to attempt to avoid a sufficiently large threatening object. ?
    Or is the probability of a collision considered to low . Thanks ESA for the blog ! What a fantastic journey this is. The scientists ,engineers ,IT , technicians and organisers are brilliant!!!

  • Excellent news from this part of the Universe! 🙂 Philae is a tough little one, and will continue to amaze us!
    Congratulations to the whole team at the ESA, and to each and every engineer and technician who worked on the probe! Good job!

  • Dan levin says:

    Are you able yet to determine where Philae is on the surface?
    Also, just as important, we need more T shirts with the cartoon series on them. Please?!?

  • masanori says:
    ZERO degree Celsius (today's highest temperature of a day??) is very encouraging! Should not want too much but, am I again allowed to re-start dreaming that Philae is working at perihelion in full form?? It might be possible, I suspect!!

    I started wondering how many in Rosetta's science team had expected that they were going to (have to) count this role of Rosetta in such amount at this time of the mission calender.

    But still wondering why such short duration of radio link between Rosetta & Philae while Philae gets sunshine for 3 hours per comet day??

    Whatever thrown out from 67P are blocking it??
    Philae's radio link antenna is covered by comet's material?? (I mean, is it possible that some material tends to stick with the antenna while it does not tend to stick with solar arrays??)

    or else.....??

    Safe flight Rosetta!! Looking forward to your good news this weekend!!

    • Denis says:

      If Philae is close to some cliff as it seems to be, communication will be possible only when the cliff does not block the communication. So I guess on top of the illumination of Philae and the Rosetta-Philae distance, the geometry also matters. As they don't know exactly its location, I guess it's difficult to put Rosetta in an orbit that optimize the viewing geometry. It should improve over time I guess, as they refine the Rosetta orbit !?

    • Peter says:

      As the data is FIFO, it would be quite curious to know the time stamp of them, and of the 0 degrees. Are the 0 degrees in the real-time part of the packet?

  • Ambroise says:

    There was a 20 min contact 19th, not completly stable, so not that many pacquets have been sent, but Philae gets more energy, with battery temp arround zero, it will be able to store it and work during night. Last week paquets havent been sent. And data what seems to be like from may have been received already. see

  • Peter says:

    We know the comet rotates at 12 hours per rev. But what is the trajectory of Rosetta? How lang lasts its rotation? I read once its trajectory is on the terminator (perpendicular to the sun, therefore). What is the rotation axis of the comet? Thanks.

  • Adriano says:

    Woohoo. Go go go Philae.

  • Dave says:

    Haven't had an update since last Friday (19th) - any chance of one please?

  • John says:

    Yes agree with Dave can we have an update critical phase as new Rosetta orbit

  • Alex says:

    Can we have daily updates please even one liners to say nothing new is better than this silence!

  • Paul says:

    What danger is there that Philae could be blown off the comet by the increased activity as it gets nearer the sun?

  • Ralph says:

    Please some news?

    Could it be the batteries are now charging? This could take several days. What is the capacity of the batteries? Or charge time.?

    Best wishes to the team

Comments are closed.