Rosetta's Philae makes history, lands on comet 67P

The European Space Agency has successfully landed a robotic probe called 'Philae lander' on a comet after detaching from its mothership Rosetta.

Rosetta's Philae makes history, lands on comet 67P

Washington: The European Space Agency has successfully landed a robotic probe called 'Philae lander' on a comet after detaching from its mothership Rosetta.

The Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at about 1605 GMT.

The Rosetta's Philae 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.

"This is a big step for human civilisation," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the director-general of the European Space Agency (ESA).

After the signal was confirmed, there were cheers and hugs at the control room in Darmstadt, Germany.

The Philae landing craft It was designed to throw light on some of the mysteries of these icy relics from the formation of the Solar System.

It will be used to take pictures of the comet's landscape and to analyse its chemical composition.

Scientists hope the information lander gathers from the surface of the comet will provide new insight into the mechanism of our Solar System and could even give fresh clue about the origins of life on Earth.

Also Read: Listen to the 'mysterious' song of Rosetta's comet

ESA's Rosetta comet mission: As it happened

  • First postcard of Philae lander just after separation from its mother ship Rosetta released.
  • ESA Rosetta Mission says it is now back in contact with Philae.
  • Philae ​is now separated from the mother ship Rosetta and descends to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
  • Philae lander's separation from Rosseta is confirmed. The lander is on its way to the surface of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. “Philae is gone. It is on its path down to the comet,” says Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Flight Operations Director, European Space Agency, ESOC.
  •  Upon separation, the two spacecraft (Rosseta and Philae)  will lose contact with each other until about 11:58.
  • The final preparation maneuver in the form of the fourth go/no-go decision point gets completed and the lander is GO for separation.
  • Commanded by time-tagged commands on board, Rosetta is expected to move onto the delivery trajectory.
  • The Philae Control Team at the Lander Control Centre completes a final check and verification of the lander’s health. The GO was given at 02:35 GMT/ 03:35 CET. Following a short manoeuvre set for 07:30 UTC / 08:30 CET, the final GO for separation will be made around 07:35 UTC/08:35 CET.

After the touchdown  the Philae lander will obtain the first images of Rosetta ever taken from a comet's surface. It will also drill into the surface to study the composition and witness close up how a comet changes form as its exposure to the sun varies.

While Philae can remain active on the surface for about two-and-half days, its mother ship, the Rosetta spacecraft, will remain in orbit around the comet till 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies of the comet as it approaches the sun and then moves away.

The landing site, formerly known simply as Site J, now has an official name: Agilkia.




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