We’re one step closer to life imitating art, or life imitating whatever you’d call the films that Michael Bay makes. We’re not snobs, they’re fun. But mankind has reached a space milestone with the landing last night of a probe on a comet as it whizzes through space like a taxi with unlimited fuel.
The result of ten years of flight by the Rosetta orbiter, which was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) back in 2004, the Philae lander/probe that touched down on the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet last night is the culmination of a whole mass of scientific effort. It’s also the first controlled landing on a comet ever achieved, though NASA has crashed into a comet in their time.
The ESA’s director general Jean-Jacques Dordain said “You have all heard Philae has landed. This is a big step for human civilization. This is terrestrial intelligence that makes a difference.”
The image that you see here was taken by the Philae lander on its approach to the comet for landing. This ‘selfie’ was taken 16km out and you can see the comet in the background above one of the solar wings used for the flight.
Now the mission starts for Philae, following some uncertainty about the landing. It was thought that the landing thrusters might fail and while they managed to put the lander down unscathed, anchor harpoons means to fix the probe to the comet’s surface failed to fire. If it manages to stick with its target until December 2015 without the anchor, its mission to examine the composition of the comet will be complete – after it whizzes around the sun a time or two, that is.
And since we can’t seem to get this out of our heads today; we thought you should share the ear-worm.ARVE Error: need id and provider