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Historic Step in Exploration: First Landing on a Comet

Rosetta-Philae Separation (ESA/ATG medialab)

Rosetta-Philae Separation (ESA/ATG medialab)

On 12 November 2014, the Philae lander touched down on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission. This is the first time a man-made device has landed on a comet and collected data directly from the surface. The Philae lander is provided by a European consortium led by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), also including the French Space Agency (CNES) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

For ten years Philae has been travelling on board ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. The mission is one of the most challenging ever as many of the complex navigation and landing manoeuvres needed to take place automatically. Furthermore, Rosetta is the first space mission beyond the main asteroid belt that relies solely on solar cells for power generation. Meanwhile, spacecraft Rosetta continues to orbit Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, entering its major science phase. Rosetta will be conducting remote sensing measurements with its 11 on-board instruments and serving as communication relay for the lander. Lander Philae´s ten instruments performed unprecedented in-situ measurements and analyses before the lander went into hibernation. It might be reactivated if solar panel orientation permits further investigations.

With ESA, DLR, CNES and ASI all being members of the ISECG, the Rosetta mission is part of the ISECG Global Exploration Roadmap. It expands our knowledge about deep space, comets and eventually the formation of the solar system. Furthermore, the mission demonstrates technologies and enhances experience and knowledge that will significantly contribute to the development of capabilities for future robotic and human exploration missions.

More information about the Rosetta mission and the Philae lander can be found at:

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