The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has released a series of stunning images taken half a billion kilometers from Earth by the Philae lander.
The robotic probe has made history by becoming the first space craft to land on a comet.
The dishwasher-sized lander took seven hours to descend from its mothership Rosetta.
It rotated, bounced awkwardly but landed successfully on the comet’s surface.
It was originally thought to have bounced once before landing, but now it appears to have bounced twice.
The probe was not designed to bounce, and harpoons designed to anchor it to the comet’s surface failed to deploy.
Philae lander manager Stephan Ulamec explained that they know roughly where the Philae lander is, but not exactly.
“We have a better understanding now how we got there. We still don’t know exactly where. I said we probably landed twice, that’s already been announced, but in fact we landed three times, so there is an inflation of landings.”
The space probe will now sniff and drill for samples from the surface of the comet. They will be used to unlock one of the universe’s biggest mysteries: how planets evolved, and possibly even how life itself evolved.
“The mission is not over for us it continues,” said an emotional Spacecraft Operations Manager Andrea Accomazzo. “We are preparing for the coming days, the coming weeks, the coming months and maybe a couple of years more.”
“So I wish everybody that in a couple of years maybe we are still talking about this fantastic mission and this fantastic team and this fantastic comet and for more fantastic science, so thanks a lot,” he concluded
Euronews correspondent Jeremy Wilkes reported: “So the photos are there now and we are starting to get this amazing information from the surface of the comet. It’s not exactly where the scientists wanted it to be, but that doesn’t matter. This is the most amazing mission. And you have to remember, Rosetta will fly alongside the comet for the rest of 2015.”
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