On November 12, a space probe named Philae completed its four-billion-mile journey into space, touching down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Philae shared its historic moment with the world via Twitter:

Philae was launched in 2004 by the European Space Agency (ESA), and carried into space by the Rosetta spacecraft. Alumnus Philippe Kletzkine SM ’83, ESA’s manager for the Rosetta Philae Lander, spoke to Slice of MIT in February of this year about the project.

Philae’s mission, after touching down on a comet, is to transmit data about the comet’s composition to the ESA. Data collected by Philae could provide information about the origins of the solar system.

The unmanned space probe’s landing, although successful, wasn’t completely smooth. Harpoons intended to anchor the lander to the comet’s surface failed to deploy, bouncing Philae back into space twice before it finally settled on the comet some distance from its target destination. As of this writing, ESA believes Philae has settled near the rim of a crater.

As of Thursday afternoon, ESA is trying to pinpoint the location of Philae. Parts of the lander appear to be in shadow, limiting its ability to transmit data. Philae’s batteries rely on solar panels for power.

Stay up to date on the latest news about the Rosetta mission:

Follow The Guardian’s live blog.

European Space Agency’s Rosetta website.

Photos, video, and updates from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

On Twitter: ESA Rosetta Mission and the Philae Lander.

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One comment

  1. Pretty funny this probe is actually tweeting. In the 60, who could have ever imagined something like this would happen. Times are changing. But its great!

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