The space probe that landed on a comet, once thought to be dead, is now alive.

To scientists’ relief and delight, the Philae spacecraft that landed on a comet last fall has woken up and communicated with Earth after seven long months of silence, the European Space Agency announced Sunday.

Philae became the first spacecraft to settle on a comet when it touched down on icy 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November. But the solar-powered probe came down with a bounce and ended up in the shadow of a cliff instead of in direct sunlight.

There is a back story on that. The lander is programmed in Forth. It has 10 Forth chips (RTX2010) running its equipment.

The Philae spacecraft that landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P) had an experiment on board that was driven by a FORTH language processor, the Intersil HS-RTX2010RH.

And that brings me to a little story. I’m working on a Polywell Fusion Reactor and we are using Forth as our control language.

The Line Frequency Meter you see displayed here was developed by the Proton Boron Team (PB Team), and is part of the beginning of the Proton Boron Fusion experiments. It uses one of the control processors developed for those experiments to read the Line Frequency, and feeds that data to the meter.

Our project lead electrical engineer, M.Simon, has worked with Clyde W. Phillips Jr. (Head of IT), often using the forth language in programming industrial controls during their nearly 40 years of association. Simon notes that way back in 2006/2007 when he began studying Polywell Fusion, he planned to use the Forth language to control the experiments and the power plant (once the power plant was developed). Simon and Clyde find that the way they write Forth makes it by far the easiest programming language to read — which greatly improves productivity, testability, quality, and reliability. M. Simon – our CTO – insists on using Forth because in his experience it greatly reduces software development time. A significant benefit to a project of this magnitude.

To keep the project running donate !

And if you can’t donate – tell your friends. Heck. tell your friends even if you donate.

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There is another back story to all this. MPE Compilers were used to develop the code that ran on Philae. When I originally started designing Proton-Boron hardware I contacted MPE for support. And they were kind enough to supply a version of their compiler to use on our hardware. But Clyde and I decided that we wanted to roll our own and have the compiler resident on the chip instead of a PC. That has been accomplished. None the less we wish to thank Stephen Pelc and the gang at MPE for their support.