People managed to land a probe on a comet without destroying either the probe or the comet

This is pretty freaking cool:

“This is a big step for human civilisation,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the director-general of the European Space Agency (Esa).

Shortly after the touchdown was confirmed, Stephan Ulamec, the mission’s lander chief, said: “Philae is talking to us… we are on the comet.”

The first pictures from the surface have already reached Earth and are being processed in preparation for release.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, famous for performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the space station, said of the comet: “Now we’re close enough to lick it, and see what it’s really made of.”

You have to admit, with our recent track record as a species not looking so hot, this is some welcome good news even if nothing more comes from the probe’s work.

UPDATE: Apparently the landing wasn’t totally awesome. The harpoons that were supposed to anchor the probe to the comet never fired, and as a result the probe bounced on landing and eventually came to rest on its side and in the shade of a cliff, which means that its solar panels are receiving considerably less sunlight than was originally planned.

Still, people landed a thing on a comet!


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