A Cosmic First: European spacecraft lands on Comet!

November 12, 2014

The European Space Agency has successfully landed a spacecraft on a comet for the first time in history!

rosetta-spacecraftThe agency said it has received a signal at 1603 GMT (8:03 a.m. PST) from the 100-kilogram (220-pound) Philae lander after it touched down on the icy surface of the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

“We definitely confirm that the lander is on the surface,” said flight director Andrea Accomazzo.

The landing caps a 6.4 billion-kilometer (4 billion-mile) journey begun a decade ago.

Rosetta, which was launched in 2004, had to slingshot three times around Earth and once around Mars before it could work up enough speed to chase down the comet, which it reached in August. Rosetta and the comet have been traveling in tandem ever since at 41,000 mph (66,000 kph).

PHOTO: Featured — DLR German Aerospace Center / STORY: Space.com