Our newest hero! Historic first landing on a speeding comet – hold on tight Philae!
Today the European Space Agency’s Philae comet probe became the first spacecraft to land on a comet! Philae has been hitching a ride on Rosetta spacecraft as it travelled over 317 million miles on its 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (sorry kids, nerdy scientists name these things, not me). Scientists believe Philae landed successfully (bounced actually) but failed to launch the harpoons that were intended to anchor it to Comet 67P/C-G. As such, it may be a rough ride for Philae but we have full confidence that the little guy can ride it out and give us a ton of great pictures and scientific data.
ESA scientists say Rosetta initially hit the surface of the comet about 100 meters from the planned landing site, then bounced three times before settling down. Philae appears to have come to rest in a partial shadow on the rim of a crater, standing on two of its three legs with the third sticking up in the air. Bibring said scientists hope to maneuver Philae into a more secure position. The lander, about the size of a washing machine, is stable despite failing, so far, to fire three harpoons into the surface to secure it, ESA scientists said.