The Philae lander, lost shortly after touchdown on the Comet 67P Churyumov/Gerasimenko, has been found. ESA mission controllers had been able to broadly narrow down its location, but until now have been unable to find the lander itself because Rosetta has been too far away to take pictures of sufficient resolution.
As of last Friday, that is no longer the case. Now entering the final phase of its mission, Rosetta is making much closer passes by the comet’s nucleus, and it has now returned an image in which the lander is clearly visible. It’s now obvious why the lander was unable to right itself: it is firmly wedged into a crevice, on its side, under a large overhang.
There is no hope of reviving the lander; it simply cannot receive enough sunlight in this orientation, ever. By the end of the month, Rosetta will have joined it on the comet’s surface, after slowly spiraling in and photographing ever closer. Scientists may manage to land Rosetta more delicately, repeating the feat of NEAR-Shoemaker in landing on 433 Eros. But at that point the primary mission will, most certainly, be over.
Sleep well, little lander.