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Philae lander makes comet landing

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Philae lander

 

Philae lander
Philae lander

European robot probe Philae has made the first, historic landing on a comet, after descending from its mothership, a BBC report said Wednesday.

The European Space Agency (ESA) moved closer to putting a robot on the surface of a comet Wednesday, as its Rosetta satellite released the Philae lander towards its destination.

The lander, separated from the satellite at 8.35 a.m. GMT, was headed for Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a large mass of ice and dust some 510 million km away.

The mission’s success marked a “first” in the field of space exploration, with no mission having made a soft landing on a comet earlier.

As Philae was heading towards the surface, Mark McCaughrean, senior science advisor at the European Space Agency (ESA), said: “It’s all down to Issac Newton and the laws of physics now. Philae is on its way down to the surface.”

However, the mission was tricky. Part of the difficulty was the very low gravity on the comet, four km-wide ice mountain.

Comets almost certainly hold vital clues about the original materials that went into building the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago and if the mission is successful, it will provide an opportunity to sample a comet directly.