Rosetta’s lander Philae, which made a historic touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko earlier this week, has run out of battery power, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Saturday. In a blog post, ESA said that the lander is now in “idle mode” and it is unlikely that communication will be reestablished in the near future. Contact with the spacecraft was lost at 6:36pm ET on Nov. 14. Philae was expected to deplete its battery power this weekend, but the event happened a little earlier than planned.
The first spacecraft ever to land on a comet has fallen silent, entering a potentially long, cold sleep after running out of power. The European Space Agency’s Philae lander completed its last transmission Friday (Nov. 14) at 7:36 p.m. EST (0036 GMT) before settling into a hibernation state as its batteries ran out. The probe had been studying the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for 57 hours when it went to sleep, possibly for good. Philae landed on the comet on Wednesday (Nov. 12) as part of ESA’s historic Rosetta mission. “It has been a huge success, the whole team is delighted,” Philae lander manager Stephan Ulamec of DLR German Aerospace Agency, who tracked the comet landing from ESA’s Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, said in a prepared statement. “Despite the unplanned series of three touchdowns, all of our instruments could be operated and now it’s time to see what we’ve got.”