Philae has made the first, historic landing on a comet


European robot probe Philae has made the first, historic landing on a comet, after descending from its mothership.



The landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was confirmed at about 1605 GMT.

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

It was designed to shine a light on some of the mysteries of these icy relics from the formation of the Solar System.

The landing caps a 6.4 billion-kilometre journey that was begun a decade ago.

The lander sank about 4cm into the surface, suggesting a relatively soft surface.

But there remains some lack of clarity over whether the harpoons designed to fasten the spacecraft to the ball of ice and dust fired as intended.

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

Shortly after the touchdown was confirmed, Stephan Ulamec, the mission's lander chief, said: "Philae is talking to us... we are on the comet."

The first pictures from the surface have already reached Earth and are being processed in preparation for release.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, famous for performing David Bowie's Space Oddity on the space station, said of the comet: "Now we're close enough to lick it, and see what it's really made of."

Prof Monica Grady of the Open University, who has worked on the project from its earliest days, was at mission control in Darmstadt and was jumping for joy when the news came through.

She told BBC News: "I can't believe it, it's fantastic, we've landed - we've waited so long for this."


Source: bbc.com/news