Rosetta comet landing: Philae now stable

NOVEMBER 13, 2014

Philae, the robotic probe that made a historic landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is reportedly stable after initially failing to attach to the surface.

European Space Agency engineers, said on Thursday, that the Philae lander may have bounced hundreds of metres back up off the surface of comet 67P after the initial touch-down. This is partly because the gravity on the comet is so weak that an astronaut could easily escape its pull just by jumping.

Fatefully, a thruster on the lander failed on Tuesday night.

Philae has started sending pictures back to Earth and scientists are now debating on how to proceed with the mission. They hope the probe will analyse the comet's surface to yield insights into the origins of our Solar System.

The European Space Agency £1-billion Rosetta satellite carried Philae on a 6.4 billion-km journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko over the past ten years.

Philae, the size of a washing machine, was launched from the satellite on Wednesday and spent seven hours travelling to the comet’s surface.

News of the first landing was confirmed at about 16:05 GMT on Wednesday.

Read more: Rosetta Comet Landing: What’s The Big Deal?