Comet Lander Philae Connection Lost After Download

From a USA Today Article:

Earth to Philae?

Scientists indefinitely lost connection with the lander on Comet 67/P after successfully downloading all data. The European Space Agency received no signals from the Philae lander Saturday morning during a scheduled effort to establish communication, the mission chief said.

Scientists raced to gather data before Philae's battery died after the solar-powered craft landed next to a cliff that largely blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels. The probe is receiving just 1.5 hours of sunlight instead of the expected 6-7 hours — not enough to charge secondary batteries.

ESA on Friday ordered a rotating operation to pull the lander out of a shadow so that solar panels could recharge the depleted batteries. If it works, it may take days or weeks until the batteries of Philae are strong enough to send signals again.

Scientists say they already have gathered huge amounts of data and are calling the first-ever comet landing a roaring success.

"Let's stop looking at things that we could have done if everything had worked properly," flight director Andrea Accomazzo said Friday. "Let us look at things that we have done, what we have achieved and what we have on the ground. This is unique and will be unique forever."

A handout picture made available by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Nov. 13, 2014 and made by the CIVA camera on Rosetta’s Philae lander, shows the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from a distance of about 16 km from the surface of the comet.(Photo: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA, EPA)

Before the batteries died, Philae updated more than 362,000 followers on Twitter.

"My #lifeonacomet has just begun @ESA_Rosetta. I'll tell you more about my new home, comet #67P soon… zzzzz#CometLanding"

"We still hope that at a later stage of the mission, perhaps when we are nearer to the Sun, that we might have enough solar illumination to wake up the lander and re-establish communication," said Stephan Ulamec, lander manager at the DLR German Aerospace Agency, who monitored Philae's progress from ESA's Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, this week.

Contributing: The Associated Press