European Space Agency lands Rosetta’s Philae probe on comet
European Space Agency
ESA’s Rosetta mission has soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.
After a tense wait during the seven-hour descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the signal confirming the successful touchdown arrived on Earth at 16:03 GMT (17:03 CET).
The confirmation was relayed via the Rosetta orbiter to Earth and picked up simultaneously by ESA’s ground station in Malargüe, Argentina and NASA’s station in Madrid, Spain. The signal was immediately confirmed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, and DLR’s Lander Control Centre in Cologne, both in Germany.
The first data from the lander’s instruments were transmitted to the Philae Science, Operations and Navigation Centre at France’s CNES space agency in Toulouse.
“Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured a place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a lander to a comet’s surface,” noted Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.
“With Rosetta we are opening a door to the origin of planet Earth and fostering a better understanding of our future. ESA and its Rosetta mission partners have achieved something extraordinary today.”
Rosetta was launched on 2 March 2004 and travelled 6.4 billion kilometres (4 billion miles) through the Solar System before arriving at the comet on 6 August 2014.
Video: ESA team confirms the Philae landing
Video: Philae’s journey
Video:ESA to celebrate the first ever attempted soft landing on a comet by ESA’s Rosetta mission