Rosetta makes first ever landing on a Comet

comet landing

This image of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was taken by the Philae lander of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission during Philae’s descent toward the comet on Nov. 12, 2014. Philae’s ROLIS camera took the image from a distance of approximately two miles (three kilometers) from the surface.
Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/DLR

Mission controllers at ESA’s mission operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, received a signal confirming that the Philae lander had touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, Nov. 12, just after 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST. At first it was reported the probe had landed as expected, harpooning the surface to anchor it down in the low gravity but later reports stated the harpoons had not fired. The lander appeared to bounce and actually landed twice. Were waiting on reports to see what the status and orientation of the lander is.

The lander is expected to send images from its landing site, named Agilkia. These will be the first images ever taken from a comet’s surface. Philae will also drill into the surface to study the composition, and witness close up how a comet changes as its exposure to the sun varies. With its primary battery, Philae will remain active on the surface for about two-and-a-half days. Philae’s mothership, the Rosetta spacecraft, will remain in orbit around the comet through 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies as the comet approaches the sun and then moves away.

About the author

Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.