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After 2 weeks of silence, Philae comet lander back in touch

BERLIN (AP) — The Philae space probe that landed on a comet last year has made contact with Earth for the first time in more than two weeks.

The German space agency DLR, which controls the lander, says it received data from Philae over a 22-minute period late Thursday, although the connection broke off several times.

Scientists were joyous in June when the comet lander awoke from seven months of hibernation. But they have been unable to explain why Philae isn’t communicating more regularly. Its signals are relayed to Earth by the lander’s mother ship, Rosetta, which is orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet that Philae is on.

DLR said Friday the probe sent back data from a radar-like instrument that scientists hope will allow them to understand the composition of the comet’s core.

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