Spacecraft Successfully Lands on Comet

Earlier today, the European Space Agency successfully landed its space probe, Philae, on the surface of Comet 67P. This landing marked the first controlled touch down on a comet in history. Philae separated from its mother ship, Rosetta, at 3:30 AM EST; it then floated toward the surface for the next seven hours. Shortly after landing, the Philae Lander’s Twitter account tweeted:

It was noticed that Philae may have bounced as it was landing on the surface of the comet, due to harpoon failure. Philae lander manager Stephan Ulamec responded, “So maybe we didn’t land once — we landed twice.” The scientists at ESA hope to know more on the glitch Thursday. Many people are excited for the new discoveries that Philae will make during its time on the comet. Through experiments and photographs, this mission may help us better understand the history of our solar system and how it has evolved. Scientists also hope to learn more specifically about the composition of comets and how they interact with the solar wind.

And for anyone wondering how the spacecraft and lander got their names, CNN has the answers:

The spaceship is named after the Rosetta Stone, an inscribed piece of volcanic rock found in Egypt in 1799 that that allowed scientists to decipher hieroglyphics and thus understand the ancient Egyptian culture, ESA said. The lander is named after an island in the Nile River where an obelisk was found that helped decipher the Rosetta Stone, ESA said.