|Rosetta’s lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as these first two CIVA images confirm. One of the lander’s three feet can be seen in the foreground. The image is a two-image mosaic. Credit: ESA|
Yesterday, ESA’s Rosetta mission soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet after a seven-hour descent to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. A signal confirmed the successful touchdown arrived on Earth at 11:03 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The Rosetta spacecraft was launched over a decade ago from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. During this long voyage, Rosetta had to make three gravitational sling shot maneuvers around the Earth and one around Mars to gain enough speed to catch up with Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rosetta neared the icy comet on August 6, 2014. After several months of maneuvering the spacecraft into a precise orbit around the comet, Rosetta launched its Philae probe yesterday at 4:03 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (09:03 GMT).
Philae will later focus on the composition and structure of the comet nucleus material. It will also drill more than 20 centimeters into the subsurface to collect samples for inspection by the lander’s onboard laboratory.