NASA hails comet landing as 'breakthrough moment'

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NASA on Wednesday hailed the first-ever landing of a spacecraft on a comet as a "breakthrough moment" in the history of space exploration.

The European Space Agency's Philae lander detached from the Rosetta spacecraft and touched down on the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in a complicated maneuver that some experts likened to a bullet meeting another bullet in space.

"We congratulate ESA on their successful landing on a comet today," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

"This achievement represents a breakthrough moment in the exploration of our solar system and a milestone for international cooperation."

He also noted that three US space agency instruments are on board Rosetta to map the comet's nucleus and search for signs of water.

"We are proud to be a part of this historic day and look forward to receiving valuable data," he said.

The 100-kilogram (220-pound) lander separated from its mother ship, Rosetta, after a trek lasting a decade and covering 6.5 billion kilometers (four billion miles).

But the announcement was soon followed by worries that Philae may have landed in soft material and was not properly attached.

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© 2014 AFP

Citation: NASA hails comet landing as 'breakthrough moment' (2014, November 12) retrieved 16 October 2019 from
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Nov 19, 2014
Very exciting indeed. And so much more to come over the coming year. Perhaps even more from the lander as well.

But for me the European Space Agency landing on the Saturn moon of Titan was just as big a breakthrough moment as this. It was the first spacecraft to ever land on a body in the outer solar system. And arguable one of the top 3 most interesting moons to be found in our entire solar system.

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