After Historic Comet Landing, Probe Gathers 60 Hours of Data
by AMNH on
Last week, the European Space Agency made history by landing a probe on a comet barreling through deep space.
The Philae lander on the Rosetta spacecraft began its journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko 10 years ago, in 2004. Since then, it has flown about 4 billion miles, collecting images of Mars and two asteroids on the way.
The probe and the spacecraft are equipped with a number of specialized scientific instruments that will be gathering data to provide insights about comets—mysterious, icy bodies that are left over from the birth of the solar system. Some research also suggests that comets could be responsible for bringing water to Earth in the planet’s early history.
Philae, which landed on November 12, collected almost 60 hours of data on the comet before settling into a hibernation state when its batteries ran out. Rosetta will remain with the comet through December 2015, making its closest flyby to the sun in August 2015.