I don't remember if I posted about it when it happened, but the European Space Agency landed a probe (Philae) on a comet back last November, which was amazing considering it was like throwing a pea from Paris and landing it in the eye of the Statue of Liberty or something. However, due to some difficulties on landing it bounced into a shady spot where it could not receive solar power to recharge and had to go into hibernation, losing contact with the ESA. While it was on though, it got all the main science things they were hoping to get done done so it was a roaring success at the time but still, it landed and within a few days lost power and went to sleep.
The satellite it came from (Rosetta) which is still orbiting the 67P comet and (sending back pictures
as the comet starts to change as it approaches the Sun) has been looking for the landing spot for months without much luck (try spotting a washing machine tucked into a shady nook somewhere in an area the size of Los Angeles when you're flying several kilometers above it and can't hover) and there's been a kind of heartwarming/wrenching #WakeUpPhilae twitter campaign going on, and school classes making models and kids having Comet Lander themed birthday cakes and so on. The ESA has cute anthropomorphized cartoon versions of the satellite and lander, each with their own Twitter feed and a narrative storyline about them
which has definitely helped boost and maintain interest in the mission. XKDC's live comic coverage of the landing didn't hurt either.
To be honest, I figured it had already been a successful mission and that the little probe would likely never be heard from again. Space is big, comets are tiny, space probes are tinier and the universe is under no obligation to enable all real world events to have a satisfactory narrative arc. And that that was fine, even though it would be nice if it woke up and could do some bonus science and make a whole lot of people on Twitter happy. Today it woke up.
And I am surprisingly emotional about it! It's like a happy ending! \o/
Philae has already sent back more data and will send back more when the satellite is in correct position to relay data to the ESA. Here's a news article outlining what's going on.
There are a lot of really excited scientists in Europe right now, and a lot of happy people on Twitter. And me. YAY! \o/