It’s been a historic day in planetary exploration. At 15:33 Universal Time, the European Space Agency’s Philae spacecraft reached the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. When radio confirmation reached Earth some 30 minutes later, cheers erupted around ESA’s control room in Darmstadt, Germany. (You can replay ESA’s landing webcast here.) Never before had a spacecraft landed on a comet.
No one realized it at the time, but data from the probe and particularly magnetic-field measurements from its ROMAP instrument later showed that Philae did indeed bounce after touchdown — not once but twice!Kelly Beatty
Exciting times for space exploration! The saga is far from over, as the mission control are trying to figure out if they can rotate the lander in a better position to maximize its power supply.
I only wished human space travel would return to the spotlight; at this rate I fear I will not see a human being set foot on another Solar System body in my lifetime. Until then, we’re left to enjoy the stunning, crisp, black-and-white images sent back from the comet. You can’t get much better contrast than against the pure blackness of space!