Philae lander which made history in Nov. 2014 when it managed to land on a moving comet in an all-time first has beamed two final tweets before the European Space Agency (ESA) turned it off.
The lander has been on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s icy surface for nearly two years now, but the space agency had announced plans to cut all communications of the lander with its mothership Rosetta, which orbits close by.
Philae’s historic landing in 2014 was rather bumpy and the spacecraft dived into a slumber on a dim-lit region of the comet. Because the lander needs sunlight to be operational, it remained silent for most of its stay on the comet.
Many attempts to bring it back to life were unsuccessful, and those that did not fail managed to salvage some scientific data from the lander. In June and July last year, Philae was chattier as the space rock it was sitting on was getting closer to the Sun.
Nevertheless, over the last 12 months there was no word from the robotic spacecraft. But on Tuesday, the craft sent two final, heart-wrenching Twitter messages bidding farewell to all its fans:
It’s time for me to say goodbye. Tomorrow, the unit on @ESA_Rosetta for communication with me will be switched off forever…
— Philae Lander (@Philae2014) July 26, 2016
The messages, however, were posted by mission control members not the probe itself. Shortly after, ESA engineers said that they would shut down the Electrical Support System on Philae’s mothership which enables the two spacecrafts to communicate.
The second tweet says the lander is far from home and sun but it would like to take memories of its fans with it. “Please send me a postcard from home,” the message also reads.
Researchers expalained that the lander needs to be unplugged to save Rosetta precious energy before a fatal plunge into the comet’s surface. The spacecraft has been studying comet 67P for more than a decade but it has been orbiting it for just two years. So, the two probes will be soon reunited.
ESA has recently announced that the lander is believed to be in an “eternal state of hibernation” as it has shown no signs of activity since last July. Researchers explained that the Electrical Support System was left on in case the lander ever comes back to life. And since it didn’t the team plans to pull it from life support after a 10 year journey.
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