A Spacecraft Has Landed on a Comet for the First Time Ever

A European Space Agency handout photo taken Nov. 12 by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera shows the Philae lander after separation.
A European Space Agency handout photo taken Nov. 12 by Rosetta's OSIRIS narrow-angle camera shows the Philae lander after separation. –REUTERS

Update, 11:17 a.m.: The spacecraft has landed.

According to an Associated Press report, the European Space Agency says it has successfully landed a spacecraft on a comet for the first time in history.

The agency says it has received a signal from the 100-kilogram (220-pound) Philae lander after it touched down on the icy surface of the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Following a 10-year journey through the Solar System, the Rosetta spacecraft arrived at the Jupiter-family comet on August 6 and has been orbiting and analyzing it ever since.

Once it was properly lined up, the Philae lander, which weighs only 100 kilograms (220.462 lbs), self-ejected from Rosetta, according to the ESA. Its three legs then unfolded to prepare the craft for “a gentle touchdown.’’

The ESA has been live-streaming today’s events:

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Rosetta will now accompany Comet 67P through perihelion, the point at which it is closest to the sun. That will happen in August 2015.

Although the mission is scheduled to end in December 2015, the ESA will consider a six-month extension “provided there is fuel remaining, nominal activities are completed by the end of 2015 and additional funds are made available.’’ That decision should be made by the end of this year.

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