A few moments after the pirouette, battery voltage suddenly plummeted and engineers said the end was near. Trapped between a rock and a dark place beyond its ability to survive, Philae dutifully sent back stored data and even made fresh measurements until finally, just after 7:30 p.m. (EST-5), contact was finally lost.
Trapped in rough, forbidding terrain with its solar panels draped in shadow, the Philae comet lander raced the clock Friday to carry out high-priority science operations, including an attempt to drill into the surface of the nucleus, before exhausting its on-board batteries and effectively losing consciousness.
On Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, NASA’s next-generation Orion crew capsule made a six-hour trek from a processing building to launch pad 37B where the United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket awaits liftoff of the test flight Dec. 4 . Photo credit: Walter Scriptunas II