Space agency: Probe successfully landed on comet

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UPDATE: The Philae probe has landed on the surface of a comet, scientists from the European Space Agency announced.

It is the first time a soft landing has been achieved on a comet.

 

DARMSTADT, Germany – The European Space Agency’s unmanned Rosetta probe successfully released a lander toward the surface of a comet on Wednesday.

The Rosetta mission to land a probe on Comet 67P is past the point of no return, the agency announced.

Comet 67P is 2.5 miles wide and is so far away that a confirmation signal relayed from Rosetta will take nearly half an hour to reach Earth.

If it succeeds, it will be the first time a spacecraft has landed on a comet.

Philae spent 10 years fixed to the side of Rosetta during its several billion mile journey across the solar system.

However, it cannot be steered and once it was released, it is on its own.

The Philae lander officially separated from the mother ship Rosetta around 2:30 a.m.

It is expected to reach the comet around 10 a.m.

Researchers say they hope the probe will help them learn more about the composition of comets and how they react when they get close to the Sun.

Officials say it weighs 220 pounds and is the size of a domestic washing machine.

Watch live coverage of the ESA’s mission control.