What happened in last-ditch effort to wake Philae lander?

Story highlights

  • Philae didn't "send feedback" on the commend to spin up its flywheel, official says
  • But scientists are looking at photos to see whether they can spot any changes

(CNN)A last-ditch effort to wake the Philae lander on the surface of a comet speeding around the sun wasn't the success controllers were hoping for, the German space agency said Tuesday.

Koen Guerts, the Philae technical manager at the German Aerospace Center, said engineers at the center "have not gotten any feedback" after commanding Philae to activate the flywheel that helped stabilize it as it approached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for its November 2014 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.
    The lander didn't land as intended in November 2014 and failed to properly attach itself to the comet's surface. It was last heard from in July. Controllers think its radios are busted.
    Guerts said 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.
    "We'll get back to you when we have more news on this," he said in the video update posted to social media sites.
    Chances that the flywheel effort would succeed were always small, but controllers wanted to "leave no stone unturned," Cinzia Fantinati, an operations manager on the aerospace center's control room team, said in a statement last week.
    The Rosetta mission team is worried that as the comet moves away from the sun, carrying Philae with it, the window of opportunity to communicate with the lander is rapidly closing.
    The German Aerospace Center said last week that controllers think they have until the end of the month to reactivate the lander.
    Regardless of what happens with that effort, the international mission to study the comet is scheduled to continue through September.
    Controllers will send the orbiter toward the comet for a low-altitude survey, followed by a controlled impact on the surface, according to the European Space Agency.