It’s one of the most incredible space missions in recent memory. The European Space Agency has successfully landed a probe on a comet. ESA officials received confirmation the Philae lander successfully landed on the comet just after 11:00 am ET yesterday.
Check out the first image from the surface of the comet below.
— Philae Lander (@Philae2014) November 13, 2014
What an awesome picture!
Not the best landing
Yesterday’s landing wasn’t ideal for the Philae lander. The probe actually bounced a couple of hundred meters on its first landing. This sent the lander away from its planned landing zone.
The harpoons also failed to fire, which could complicate plans to drill. The comet’s gravity of the comet is extremely low. While the Philae lander weighs 100 kilograms on Earth, it weighs just 1 gram on the comet. Any drilling could push the lander off the comet.
And, the lander’s final resting place is in the shadow of a cliff on the comet. This probably means the lander won’t be able to use its solar panels to charge its batteries. Rosetta mission planners are looking at their options for maneuvering the lander.
Even with the hiccups, yesterday’s landing was incredible. It marked the first time a probe has soft landed on a comet. The Philae lander should still be able conduct various observations. It’s initial battery charge is expected to last just under 3 days.
I’ll keep you posted on the latest updates from the Rosetta team as they release them. The ESA Operations Twitter account is a great spot to stay updated as well.