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Landing on a comet!

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john kanca

Joined: 14 May 2005
Posts: 6346

PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:33 pm    Post subject: Landing on a comet! Reply with quote

Five simple words marked the fulfilment of an extraordinary feat of space exploration yesterday when scientists announced: ‘We are on the comet.’

To cheers and hugs, ecstatic experts delivered the news that a machine the size of a dishwasher had dropped onto an icy rock more than 300 million miles away.

However, they later revealed that the mission is already in jepoardy as it emerged the lander, which was supposed to use harpoons to tether itself to the comet's surface, had been unable to fire them and appeared to be moving around.

It was a worrying end to an extraordinary day.

At the European Space Agency’s mission control, a faint radio signal came back from the Philae lander at 4pm – proof that it had finally reached the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a decade-long chase through space.

Dr Stephan Ulamec, who ran the audacious landing programme, said early tests suggested the craft had bounced softly before turning and settling again.

He said: ‘It touched down and was re-bouncing. So maybe today, we didn’t just land, we landed twice.’

Last night the team were still not sure how securely Philae was fastened after landing thrusters and anchoring harpoons failed to fire.

It was not clear if its three ice screws had deployed either.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2831125/Rosetta-mission-broken-thruster-computer-glitch-scupper-today-s-historic-landing-comet-67P.html#ixzz3IuMT3d2h

I am in complete awe of this achievement- a mission lasting ten years. When I grew up, a comet's constitution was only a matter of speculation. This is nothing less than fantastic.
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