Is comet probe doomed? First picture from surface shows Philae has landed on its side in a CAVE - and without solar power it will die in 30 hours
In just over 50 years of space exploration humanity has landed spacecraft on Venus, the moon, Mars, Saturn's moon, Titan, and two asteroids. Now a new object can be added to that list: a comet.
But Esa scientists are concerned about the future of the Philae probe after it was revealed that the probe is likely stuck in a cave on the surface of the comet - and it may also be lying on its side.
With limited access to sunlight, and only a maximum of 30 hours of charge in its battery, scientists now face a race against time to get useful data from the probe before it dies - or find a way to recharge its solar panels and keep Philae alive.
‘If you look at the images we have at the moment, it looks like Philae is resting against a very irregular rock’, said mission director Paolo Ferri
‘There is some speculation about it being in a hole…honestly, we have no idea, because we haven’t seen all the images.
‘But what is more important is the attitude [angle] of the lander, and the clock is ticking for us to find this out.’
In a press conference in french Esa also added: 'We are in a kind of cave, not a very flat area.' And they said that the probe has access to 90 minutes of sunlight every 12 hours - which might be enough to keep it alive.
According to Philippe Gaudon, who heads the Rosetta mission at the French space agency CNES, the probe is thought to be at an angle of about 30 degrees on the surface.
Philae now only has around 20-30 hours of battery life left, before it will attempt to switch to rechargeable ones replenished by sunlight.
Mr Ferri says that all of the non-mechanical instruments on Philae are now working perfectly, but scientists will not be attempting to start up any of the mechanical instruments.
‘If we move something it might tip it over…once we know the attitude [angle], we will kn