Something truly amazing happened over the weekend, and I don’t mean any of the shocking events in the finale of Game of Thrones. On Sunday morning the Philae Lander woke up. Who? you ask. You may recall that last November the European Space Agency succeeded in the remarkable feat of landing a probe on a comet. It’s understandable if you didn’t know about it; after all, it happened in the same week that Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet with her bum. In any event, the landing was a bumpy one: within days the lander went into hibernation because it wasn’t getting enough sunlight, and, much like Kardashian herself, the project was deemed trash.
Now, however, seven months later, it has started transmitting signals again. It was expected that it would be August before the comet was near enough to the sun for the lander’s solar panels to be effective again – if at all. It appears that the lander – which is no bigger than a washing machine – has survived quite well harpooned to the surface of a giant chunk of ice hurtling through deep space. “Philae is doing very well. It has an operating temperature of -35ºC and has 24 Watts available,” said Dr. Stephan Ulamec of the German Aerospace Center, after it was announced that the lander had transmitted 300 packets of data. “The lander is ready for operations.” Over 8,000 packets of data have yet to be transmitted. The lander sends information to Earth via its “mother ship” Rosetta, which orbits the comet. Truly we live in remarkable times, even if the Internet in space is worse than dial-up.