Philae is playing hard to get. Well, it might be that it’s not happy by the way Rosetta handled the drop from the spacecraft and may have landed somewhere it doesn’t want to be at the moment. Anyway, Rosetta has done a lot of experimenting on its own and has discovered that the surface of 67P is icy hard. But what is remarkable about this is the presence of methane molecules.
Is there life in 67P or did it separate from a bigger chunk where life exists? Methane is one of the precursors of life. We have plenty of it in our planet. Definitely, according to scientists, the methane isn’t from the planet Jupiter.
So will the ESA scientists come to find out where the methane was from or the comet for that matter? That’s the function of Philae which is at the moment is refusing to acknowledge the prodding from its mother spacecraft. It has solar panels which will readily charge when hit by sunlight. That’s where the trouble lies. The solar panels may not have access to the sunlight at the moment.
If the ESA scientists are right, the Philae may have still a chance to start and do it’s a job as the comet continues its travel near the sun. By then the solar cells will get enough solar energy to get started. Although it may want to respond to its partner’s messages right now, it is unable to do due the absence of power.
Let’s hope that it’s the case and not because it’s damaged. The Rosetta left the Erath in 2014 and made a voyage crossing the deep space for 10 years. All will go to waste if the lander is damaged beyond repair. It would be difficult to dig deeper the frozen surface in order to ascertain the comets origin.
Right now all we can is wait and hope for the best. The trip is a pioneering effort and a historical one. Landing the Philae to the comet is the first in deep space venture.