European Space Agency Lands Philae Probe on Comet

One of the biggest pieces of news in the past few weeks was the history-making landing of a European Space Agency craft, the Philae space probe, on a comet. The craft was designed to be solar powered, but instead of getting the anticipated 7 hours of sunlight per day, it only received 1.5 hours per day. The probe hibernated after 60 hours of data gathering and scientific tests, but the results were transmitted back to Earth successfully. The most exciting news regarding this landing was that the Philae probe did manage to find organic material on the comet. A few quotes about the landing illustrate its importance:

  • “What we know is we touched down, we landed at the comet at the time when you all saw us cheering and when it was announced. We had a very clear signal there, we received data from the landing – housekeeping and science data – that’s the good news.” — Stephan Ulamec
  • “…marks a new chapter in the exploration of our Solar System” — David Cameron
  • “You should see the atmosphere in the control room. It’s unbelievable. We knew that it was active but we had no idea whether it would be able to do everything we wanted it to do. This morning everything seems very nominal so we are all jumping around.” — Paulo Ferri
  • “It’s a great day. Not only for ESA but for the world. We landed and Philae survived the landing. We have landed at the right place. It’s also the right comet, don’t worry. And we have got the radio link which is very important and we have the power on board.” — Stephan Ulamec
  • “There is data in the can, we have to wait for it to be transmitted. We will know by midday tomorrow how much data we’ve got.” — Monica Grady

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