Success as Rosetta mission lands safely on comet

A spacecraft has landed on a comet for the first time in history, the European Space Agency announced.

The agency says it has received a signal from the 100-kilo (220 lbs) Philae lander after it touched down on the icy surface of the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Flight director Andrea Accomazzo said from the DLR German Aerospace Centre in Darmstadt Germany: “We definitely confirm that the lander is on the surface.”

Further checks are needed to ascertain the state of the lander.

The landing on the speeding comet marks the highlight of the decade-long Rosetta mission to study comets and learn more about the origins of these celestial bodies.

Scientists hope it will eventually provide answers to some of the biggest questions about the origin of the universe.

The landing caps a 6.4 billion-kilometre journey to study the four-km-wide (2.5-mile-wide) comet.

Philae was supposed to drift down to the comet and latch on using harpoons and ice screws. ESA announced hours before the release that a third component – an active descent system that uses thrust to prevent the craft from bouncing off the surface of the low-gravity comet – could not be activated.

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