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12 November 2014 - Philae Successfully Lands on Comet 67P

The Rosetta, an ESA probe, was launched on 2 March 2004 and arrived at the comet 10 years later on 6 August 2014.

It's mission was to perform a detailed study of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

On 10 September 2014, Rosetta entered the comet's orbit at around 30km. The image below was taken on that day: 

Get this image on a poster! - Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

After arriving at the comet, it's main focus was to survey 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in order to prepare for the first ever attempt to soft-land on a comet.

Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Then on 12 November 2014, the Philae lander decoupled from the Rosetta probe and it started making its way down.

The lander was equipped with harpoons that would shoot into the comet to secure its position. But these failed to deploy causing the lander to bounce on the surface.

After two bounces the Philae successfully reached the comet's surface, becoming the first ever soft-landing probe on a comet.

Because of the unplanned landing site, access to sunlight was reduced which caused the batteries to be unable to recharge.

And after two days, batteries ran out and communication was lost. 

In June and July 2015, communications were briefly restored.

Philae was able to get the first images from a comets surface and some other data on the composition of the surface back to Earth.

Here is one of those images:

Photo: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Later the Rosetta probe ended it's mission on 30 September 2016 by crash landing in de Ma'at region of the comet.

One year later, in September 2017, scientists were surprisingly able to capture the crash site of the Rosetta probe:


Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Learn more about The Bittersweet Taste of Philae’s Limited Success


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