In all the history of interstellar space exploration, the following is truly a first.
The European Space Agency says it has succeeded in landing a spacecraft on a comet for the first time in history. The agency said it received a signal from the 100-kilogram (220-pound) Philae lander after she touched down on the icy surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Even Google, the world’s foremost search engine is lauding the event with their google doodle on the first controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus:
Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko and sometimes shortened to 67P/C–G or simply 67P, is a comet with a current orbital period of 6.45 years. and a rotation period of approximately 12.4 hours. It will next come to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on August 13, 2015. Like all comets, it is named after its discoverers, Klim Ivanovych Churyumov and Svetlana Ivanovna Gerasimenko, who first observed it on photographic plates in 1969.
Churyumov–Gerasimenko is the destination of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, launched on March 2, 2004. Rosetta rendezvoused with Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 6 August 2014 and entered orbit on September 10, 2014. Rosetta ’s lander, Philae, landed on its surface on November 12, 2014, becoming the first spacecraft to land on a comet nucleus.
The Rosetta Philae spacecraft. SOURCE
After bouncing two times off the surface of 67P, a small lander descent occurred on November 12, 2014. Philae, a 100 kg (220 lb) robotic probe, set down on the surface with landing gear and “harpoon[ed] itself to the surface”. The landing site was christened Agilkia in honour of Agilkia Island, where the temples of Philae Island, Egypt were relocated after the construction of the Aswan Dam flooded the island.
I guarantee, Philae will be in for a wild ride. She has successfully accomplished what no other unmanned spacecraft has been able to do before her historic landing. She is definitely in a class by herself.
For more on Philae‘s landing, access the following links: