Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Another Step Forward
Scientists cheered and punched the air in the European Space Agency (ESA) control room after a nail-biting 7 hour wait between the probe's detachment from the Rosetta orbiter and touchdown on the comet's surface and receipt of first signals.
The orbiter has been chasing the comet, named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, since 2004 and has now caught up with it as it passed between Earth and Jupiter on one of its regular trips to the inner Solar System.
There are concerns that the lander's harpoon system for firmly latching onto the comet had not fired and the probes grip on the comet is tentatively dependent on ice-screws affixed to the bottom of the landing legs but for the moment we taken yet another leap forward which are thankfully beginning to come regularly after so many wasted years in space exploration.