To find the final landing place of the Philae lander, researchers have been looking at the images sent to Earth by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft as well as variety of data, which include magnetic field and radio wave measurement.
Now the efforts of the researchers have helped them narrow down the probable area of landing the Philae to just one part of the comet.
It is now believed that Philae landed in a shady area where there is not enough of light to fully charge the spacecraft causing the lander to shut down after 60 hours on the comets surface.
Based on the radio signals sent between the lander and Rosette, ESA reported that the Philae could be in the ellipse about 16×160 meters long and wide just outside the rim of a large depression on the comet’s head known as Hatmehit.
ESA said, “Combining data on the signal travel time between the two spacecraft with the known trajectory of Rosetta and the current best shape model for the comet, the CONSERT team have been able to establish the location of Philae to within an ellipse roughly 16 x 160 metres in size, just outside the rim of the Hatmehit depression.”
ESA also said that while the ellipse is currently the best estimate of the probable location of the lander based on a number of simulations, work is still ongoing to quantify the statistical likelihood of the probe inside this region.
ESA also said that the ellipse’s location depends on the assumed shape of Comet 67P, which is constantly being refined so there could still be possible revisions of the ellipse’s positioning.
The location can also be identified if the lander receives sufficient solar power to wake it up from its current state of hibernation. Comet 67P is now about 218 million km from the sun.
The probe can then resume studying the comet and scientists could by then perform additional measurements that could help determine the location of the lander after its bouncy landing on the comet’s surface.
Scientists hope that it will wake up soon from its slumber and starts to transmit signals to Rosetta once the comet gets closer to sun in the coming weeks or months.