As long as attempts to search for a lost comet with Phil’s landing module are being completed, Earth’s ground controllers will try to find another way to communicate with messages on Sunday, in the hope of forcing the research probe to move to a better position.
The Phil module landed on comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014, but it bounced off several times and finished its way, squeezing into a rock wall. Phil ended his short existence - it is impossible to manage, but scientists hope to return it, so that the work is not in vain.
The last contact with Phila was on July 9th. The comet that made the closest approach to the Sun in August will be more than 186 million miles away by the end of the month from the Sun. The surface temperature of 67P drops to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius), it's too cold for Phil's equipment. “Time is running out,” said project manager Rosetta Stefan Ulamek.
There is no disagreement about the operation. Engineers don't even know if Phil's receiver is still in working condition. The device may have been disturbed due to dust on the comet's surface.
“There is a small chance,” said operations manager Sainzia Fantinati. “We will stop at nothing.”
Meanwhile, the Rosetta spacecraft, which has been in orbit with the comet since August 2014, is expected to remain in working condition until September 2016.