Philae Lander Touches Down on Distant Comet


PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

In March 2004 the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the space probe Rosetta. On November 12, 2014, Rosetta launched the Philae lander, and despite some trouble, Philae successfully landed on Comet 67p/Churyumov-Gerasimenko—6.4 billion kilometers from Earth. Scientists hope data from Philae will help them understand the origins of Earth’s water and consequently, life on Earth. Philae spent five days collecting data before it shut down on November 17, 2014. ESA scientists hope Philae will revive when the comet turns, allowing the sun’s light to hit its solar panels. The ESA’s ability to land Philae on a comet so far away, after 20 years of preparation and 10 years in space, marks an important new era in space exploration.

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