Humans Have Landed a Space Rover on a Comet
Humans have landed on a comet! Sort of, for the first time in history, we landed a ROVER on a comet. I say we, it was the European Space Agency that did it.
We have crashed into comets before, but we never actually intentionally parked on one. We did it yesterday when Philae the probe left the Mothership Rosetta and set down on Comet 67P about 310 million miles from Earth. It took ten years to get there.
Comet 67P has a very weak gravity so Philae has harpoons to anchor it to the surface, they failed to fire yesterday, we will know more about that today.
Rosetta took off from Earth 10 years ago carrying Philae and traveled 6.4 billion miles before arriving in early August at the comet.
The Philae lander separated from the orbiting Rosetta around 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday and sort of fell on the comet seven hours later. That comet is only 2.5 miles in diameter and it was moving so just hitting the surface was a big thrill!
Shortly after landing was confirmed, the probe tweeted: "Touchdown! My new address: 67P!" Later, it tweeted again: "I'm on the surface but my harpoons did not fire."
Scientists are expecting to get all kinds of information for Philae. That is the fascinating part to me, now that it’s landed the little Rover phones home!