Space history has been made: with the touchdown of the Rosetta "Philae" probe on a comet made it the first successful landing on a comet.
I wasn't able to watch the live landing through the link that @sanityscout had shared, so I've had to catch up after the fact! Even though there was a lot of celebrating about the comet's landing, I really wasn't sure what this meant for us as far as space research goes. Here's the breakdown of some awesome facts I found out (though this will have to be updated as the data comes rolling in, I guess!)
- The probe's name isn't actually Rosetta, it is Philae. Rosetta is the name of the controlling mothership that launched the robotic spaceship probe.
- The "first" landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was confirmed at about 16:05 GMT. However, the probe's landing harpoons failed to launch, so it seems that the probe might have bounced on contact, and then landed again.
- It took over 7 hours for the process to be complete from launching, leading to an agonizing wait at home base in Germany.
- It's still a waiting game: because of the potential problem with the harpoons not launching, the scientists are waiting for radio signal to be re-established to confirm whether or not the probe has latched onto the comet.
- This mission's planning began 25 years ago, and the probe has been traveling for 10 years to make it the 4 billion miles it has traveled.
- If the mission is successful, we will know more about the composition of comets, which will help us to test theories about the origins of the universe, and whether or not comets might have played a part in "seeding" life on Earth as we know it.
There is a lot more to learn, but I think this is all pretty interesting! Make sure to check out the article if you're interested in learning more.