We Just Landed on a Fucking Comet

The Philae lander successfully touched down on Comet 67P.

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Nov 12 2014, 5:00pm

Image: European Space Agency

The Philae lander successfully touched down on Comet 67P as of 16:03 GMT after a seven-hour descent Wednesday.

This is the first time a spacecraft has ever made a successful landing on a comet and it's just the latest in a series of firsts for the ESA Rosetta Mission.

"We are extremely relieved to be safely on the surface of the comet, especially given the extra challenge of the comet's unusual shape and unexpectedly hazardous surface," Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager at the DLR German Aerospace Center, said in a release announcing the landing. 

"In the next hours we'll learn exactly where and how we've landed, and we'll start getting as much science as we can from the surface of this fascinating world."

A shot of the comet as Philae approached for landing. Image: Twitter

Launched on March 2, 2004, the lander and its carrier spacecraft, Rosetta, travelled 6.4 billion kilometers before arriving in the vicinity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6 this year.

Now that Philae has successfully touched down, it will begin gathering valuable information, including a full panorama of the landing site with a section in 3D, high-rez images of the surface,  analysis of the composition of the comet's surface materials and, according to the release, "a drill that will take samples from a depth of 23 cm and feed them to an onboard laboratory for analysis."

The mission team is hoping Philae will continue to work until March, 2015, after which they believe conditions in the lander will be too hot for the equipment to continue operating. 

Follow along with the mission's Twitter account to get the latest updates as Philae starts sending back its observations or watch the livestream of the mission control as they nerd-out along with the rest of the planet.