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Associated Press
FILE - This image provided by the European Space Agency ESA shows an artist's impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (AP Photo/ESA, C.Carreau, File)

Scientists hope comet-chaser spacecraft wakes up

Associated Press
FILE - This undated image provided by the European Space Agency ESA shows an artist's impression of the Philae lander. (AP Photo/ESA ATG medialab , Astrium E, Viktor, File)
Associated Press
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2013 file picture a European Space Agency, ESA, employee sits in the control room for the Rosetta mission at the ESAin Darmstadt, Germany. (AP Photo/dpa, Boris Roessler, File)

– Scientists at the European Space Agency are expecting an important call.

Their comet-chasing probe Rosetta is due to wake from an almost three-year hibernation at 11 a.m. Monday (1000 GMT; 5 a.m. EST) and phone home to say all is well.

But because the spacecraft's systems will take hours to power up and the signal has to travel more than 800 million kilometers (500 million miles) back to Earth, the first sign of life isn't expected before early evening.

The agency is turning the tense wait into a social media event by encouraging space enthusiasts to "Wake up Rosetta" in case its internal alarm clock fails.

The probe will rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the coming months and drop a space lander onto its icy surface in November.

––––

http://www.esa.int/rosetta

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