First Spacecraft In History Successfully Lands On Comet

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Shortly after 11 a.m. EST the European Space Agency made history by successfully landing a space probe on a comet for the first time in history.

After 10 years, four billion miles and seven high-stress hours of some of the most difficult and precise landing maneuvers ever executed, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft successfully deployed its Philae landing probe to the surface of the 67P/Churyumox-Gerasimenko comet.

Mission controllers confirmed Philae’s touchdown via live stream and Twitter around 11:07 a.m. EST.


After getting the final OK from ESA mission control, the 220-pound Philae (which weighs less than an ounce in space) separated from Rosetta and began descending to 67P just after 4 a.m. EST, firing two harpoons into the surface and one thruster at the top of the probe, descending to the surface at 3.5 km-per-hour.

The $1.6 billion Rosetta mission has already captured an unprecedented amount of data on comets after orbiting and photographing 67P as well as analyzing its tail, and scientists believe Philae — which is equipped with 10 instruments — will reveal a wealth of information about the origins of the universe (comets are billions-year-old collections of ice, dust and gases left over from the creation of planets and stars). (RELATED: Watch The First-Ever Landing Of A Space Probe On A Comet Live)

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Giuseppe Macri