A probe named Philae is seen after it landed safely on a comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in this CIVA handout image released November 13, 2014. Credit: Reuters/ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/Handout via Reuters
A probe named Philae is seen after it landed safely on a comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in this CIVA handout image released November 13, 2014. Credit: Reuters/ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/Handout via Reuters

(Reuters) – A pioneering robotic spacecraft shut down on Saturday after radioing results of its first and probably last batch of scientific experiments from the surface of a comet, scientists said.

Batteries aboard the European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander drained, shutting down the washing machine-sized probe after an adventurous and largely unscripted 57-hour mission.

Carried aboard the orbiting Rosetta mothership, Philae floated to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Thursday, but failed to deploy anchoring harpoons.

Upon contacting the comet’s unexpectedly hard surface, it bounced back up into space twice then came to rest at a still-unknown location about 1 km (0.6 mile) from its original target.

Photos and other data relayed by Philae show it finally landed against a cliff or crater wall where there was little sunlight to recharge its batteries. Racing against the clock, scientists activated a series of automated experiments, the first to be conducted from the surface of a comet.

Written by: IRENE KLOTZ – continue at REUTERS

 

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