Comet lander Philae awakes from hibernation

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BERLIN — The comet lander Philae has awakened from a seven-month hibernation.

The European Space Agency says the probe managed to communicate with Earth for more than a minute late yesterday.

Philae became the first spacecraft to land on a comet when it touched down on the surface of 67P in November. It conducted experiments and sent data to Earth for about 60 hours before its batteries were depleted and it was forced to shut down its systems.

Scientists hoped the probe would wake up again as the comet approaches the sun, allowing its solar panels to charge the on-board battery.

The German Aerospace Center, which operates Philae, says the probe sent about 300 packages of data to Earth via its mother ship Rosetta, which is orbiting the comet. It says the probe appears to have been awake for some time before it called home, because some of the packages received contained historical data.

Philae has more than 8,000 data packages still stored in its memory, which scientists hope to receive whenever it next communicates with Earth.

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