Philae lander fails to respond
Engineers sent a command to Philae to activate the flywheel that helped stabilize it as it approached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for its landing.
They had hoped the maneuver would at least shake some dust off the silent lander’s solar panels and give it another shot at life.
“We did not hear anything,” says lander manager Stephan Ulamec.
Scientists are now looking at images from the camera aboard the orbiter Rosetta, which is tailing the comet and Philae, hoping to see a dust cloud or other indication that something had happened.
The Rosetta mission team is anxious that as the comet moves away from the sun, carrying Philae with it, the window of opportunity to communicate with the lander may have closed.
At the end of January the comet will be more than 186 million miles from the sun. When temperatures fall below -58°F (-50°C) the lander will no longer be able to operate.
Dr Ulamec said: ‘We have to face reality, and chances get less and less every day as we are getting farther and farther away from the sun.
‘At some point we have to accept we will not get signals from Philae anymore.’