Rosetta comet lander starts to drill amid battery fears

The Philae lander has started to drill into the surface of the comet it reached on Wednesday, amid fears that its battery may die within hours.

Speaking via an online briefing for the press, the European Space Agency said the time has come to take more risks with the Rosetta probe, which may be entering its last day of useable power because it is sitting in the shadow of a cliff.

The lander's drill will attempt to pull up samples for analysis in the robot's onboard laboratories but if the battery dies the results may not make it back to Earth.

Valentina Lommatsch from DLR, the German Space Agency, has been looking at how much battery power they have left and said it will be "really, really close".

Stephan Ulamec, Philae lander manager, said: "The drill has been active today, whether it will sample and will succeed in bringing these samples to ovens we shall know this evening."