Rosetta mission: First for science and humanity as Philae lander touches down on comet 67P
The first ever for human kind, the Philae lander has become the first ever spacecraft to land safely on a comet after travelling through space for more than ten years and covering a distance of some 4 billion miles.
“We are there and Philae is talking to us,” confirmed Philae Lander Manager Stephan Ulamec from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission control. “The landing gear has been moved inside so we are sitting on the surface – and there’s more data to come but we are there: it’s done its job, we’re on the comet!”
Latest details of the landing are still emerging. Although the harpoons intended to secure the craft did not fire successfully as had first been thought which means that there is a possibility that the lander will not be stable as the comet moves closer to the sun. But the ESA stressed that Philae is in excellent shape and they will definitely refire the harpoons soon.
The comet itself is about as big as a mountain: 2.5 miles wide and around 2.3 miles high. The comet apparently fused from two separate icy bodies, was most often compared to a rubber duck.
Rosetta and Philae have also sent back their first images to Earth; though not of the surface of the comet but of each other when the lander had detached itself from the parent craft.
On board the Philae there are ten sensors and instruments which will now begin the important work of analyzing material from the comet's surface as well as the surrounding atmosphere of gas and dust. Rosetta will orbit around the comet for the next year.
The information provided by Philae will give an insight on the mechanism of the Solar System.