7 hours after Europe’s Rosetta orbiter launched Philae, a washing-machine-sized robot probe, it landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a big ball of ice and rock 314 million miles away and traveling through space at 34,000 miles an hour. The ESA probe will remain there transmitting data until August 2015 as the comet slowly melts from the heat of the sun.
The international space mission has been a long time in the making. Comet-chasing Rosetta was launched ten years ago. The scientific importance of the Rosetta mission cannot be over-estimated. Comets are frozen repositories of early stages of the solar system.
“European Probe Makes Historic Comet Landing,” VOA News
“Comet-Chasing Spacecraft Lands Probe After 10 Year Flight,” Alex Morales, Bloomberg News
“Mankind Has Landed on a Comet,” Sarah Zhang, Gizmodo
“Touchdown! Rosetta’s Philae Probe Lands on Comet.” (ESA press release)
“The Rosetta comet mission cost half as much as the US midterm elections,” Joseph Stromberg, Vox
“Bill Nye on the Rosetta Comet Landing: ‘We’ll make discoveries that nobody’s imagined yet,'” Big Think
Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-kcg
Image (“Comet, after Charles Martin”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.