10 years ago the Rosetta mission began with the intent of landing a craft on a comet. This morning that 10-year journey came to fruition when Philae, the mission’s lander craft, touched down on the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a seven-hour decent. Jean-Jaques Dordain, the director general of the European Space Agency called the achievement
a big step for civilization,
— ESA Rosetta Mission (@ESA_Rosetta) November 12, 2014
It took 28 minutes for news of the craft’s touchdown to reach earth, as the comet is 300 million miles away. When Philae got close to the comet it activated its upward-pointing thrusters to prevent the comet’s weak gravity from sending the lander back into space and ruining the 10-year voyage. For the next two and a half days Philae will be taking pictures, analyzing the chemical composition of the comet, drilling for samples and studying the comet’s magnetic field.
Although the craft just landed this morning it has been orbiting 67P since August 6th, and sending back data regarding the comet’s surface and gases that it emits, such as water vapor. Scientists hope that 67P will give them clues as to how the sun and our planets came to be, in addition to the formation of organic life. Scientists believe that comets may have carried the seeds of life to Earth and if this is true then it means that this is possible for other worlds throughout the universe.
The event was streamed live by the ESA. Here’s a clip of it!
Story and Image Via Wired
Featured Image Via ESA