Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have celebrated the landing of a robot probe on a speeding comet some half-billion kilometres from Earth.
But after the euphoria concerns have emerged due to a problem with the anchoring system, which is feared may hamper the project.
Photos taken of the comet by the lander called Philae and of the mother vessel known as Rosetta, show it functioning during its descent.
But the probe may have actually bounced on the comet’s surface – in effect landing twice.
The reason is down to the harpoons which failed to fire and were needed to anchor the virtually weightless lander safely onto the comet’s surface.
Even so, there is optimism it will be able to carry out the planned investigations into the origins of Earth and the solar system.
Matt Taylor who is a Rosetta Project scientist was among those celebrating the historic landing.
“I’m proud of all the people that work on this machine. This is a true indication of what we can do internationally, what international collaboration can do. Not only in Europe but across the world…..Now (the probe has to) start doing some science for us.”
Reporting for euronews, Claudio Rosmino was at mission control in Germany. After talking to scientists he said:
“What happened on November 12 some 500 million km from Earth is something special. A small leap into the icy void for the lander, but a great jump forward in scientific knowledge and the knowledge of space. The ESA team has won. But now it’s up to the probe to remove the veil from one of the biggest ever mysteries about the origins of the universe.”
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