Wednesday, November 12, 2014

European scientists make space history by successfully landing probe on a comet after 10-year mission

But reveal Philae is teetering on the surface as harpoons supposed to tether it did not fire.
  • Philae made incredible landing on comet 67P today at 3.30pm GMT making it first craft in history to land on a comet
  • Probe separated from the Rosetta spacecraft seven hours earlier after 10 year mission to comet
  • 'It's a big step for human civilisation,' said Esa director general as control room erupted with applause
  • First image by Philae showed Rosetta 50 seconds after separation as it headed towards planet
  • Scientists were worried thruster problem would scupper the landing as it was not working
  • Harpoons also failed to fire, leaving lander attached to come by ice screws in its legs
Rosetta's probe, Philae, has become the first craft in history to land on a comet.

After a daring seven-hour descent, and despite problems with its thrusters, the probe touched down on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

However, controllers admit the probe is still facing major problems as it emerged the harpoons supposed to tether it to the surface had not fired, leaving it attached only by screws on its legs. 

Scroll down for a live feed from mission control 

The final approach: This image shows comet 67P/CG from a distance of approximately 3 km from the surface 

The final approach: This image shows comet 67P/CG from a distance of approximately 3 km from the surface.

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