There is some great news from the Rosetta mission this morning, as the Philae lander which was not entirely successful in landing on its cometary target last has today come back online and is broadcasting data back to Earth.

Some of you will remember the roller-coaster ride of news from the Rosetta mission back in November 2014. The Philae lander successfully deployed after spending the better part of a decade flying out to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The plan was for it to descend to the surface of the comet, where it would insert anchors into the surface and then spend the next year or so riding the comet through the solar system and running experiments. This was the first time that a man made object was able to land on a comet surface, and it promised to provide a significant amount of new information on comet formation and properties, as well as possibly give us new information on how the solar system itself formed.

But it didn't quite work out...

The Philae lander bounced off of the surface, with its anchors failing to hold it in place, and landed instead inside a dark crater. Since the Philae relies on solar power, this meant that it didn't have enough energy to operate. And so on November 15, 2014 it went into hibernation, with scientists uncertain whether or not it would ever re-awaken.

Then on March 12, 2015 the antennas on the Rosetta orbiter were turned on just in case the Philae unit started transmitting again. And for three months they heard nothing.

Then last night, mission control received an 85 second long message from Philae via the Rosetta probe. At this point the scientists are just beginning to examine the message, but it would seem that Philae is currently operating on 24W of power and a temperature of approximately -35C. It appears that the lander also woke itself up sometime in the past few months, collected some data, and then went dormant again. However it seems to have stored the data and will broadcast that to the Earth as well, giving scientists some information on what has been happening to Philae over the past few weeks.

So hopefully now the lander will stay on for the rest of its mission, and we will have some exciting new data on comets!