Rosetta puts probe on comet in space first

2014-11-12 19:25
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Rosetta probe successfully lands on comet

The Philae, the probe sent from the Rosetta spacecraft to Comet 67P has successfully landed.

Darmstadt - The European probe Philae has made the first-ever landing on a comet, a crowning phase in a quest to explore the origins of the Solar System, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

The robot lab landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko around seven hours after separating from its mothership Rosetta more than 510 million kilometres from Earth, it said.

"Philae is talking to us," said Stephan Ulamec, the lander's manager. "We are on the comet."

"We definitely confirm that the lander is on the surface," said Andrea Accomazzo, flight operations director. "We can't be happier than what we we are now."

"This is a big step for human civilization," said the agency's director general, Jean-Jacques Dordain, as a crowd of scientists, guests and VIPs cheered and applauded in relief.

"Touchdown! My new address: 67P!," Philae's team tweeted.

Scientists hope the lander, equipped with 10 instruments, will unlock the secrets of comets - primordial clusters of ice and dust that may have helped sow life on Earth.

Getting from Earth to a comet that is travelling towards the Sun at 18 kilometres per second was a landmark in space engineering and celestial mathematics.

The €1.3bn Rosetta mission was approved in 1993.

Rosetta, carrying Philae, was hoisted into space in 2004, and took more than a decade to reach its target in August this year, having used the gravitational pull of Earth and Mars as slingshots to build up speed.

The pair covered 6.5 billion km together before the separation on Wednesday prior to the landing.

@ESA_Rosetta  ·  1h 1 hour ago

RT esaoperations: RECEIPT OF SIGNAL FROM SURFACE. receiving signals from Philae2014 on surface of comet 67P/CG cometlanding

Well done my friend! RT Philae2014: Touchdown! My new address: 67P! CometLanding

Read more on:    european space agency  |  space

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