back to article 'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P

The ESA has succeeded in humanity’s first ever attempt to land a man-made probe on a comet after Philae touched down on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. “Yes, yes, YES!” said Andrea Accamazzo, Rosetta flight director. “We see the lander sitting on the ground!” After a tense build-up, the European Space Agency’s …

  1. Blofeld's Cat


    Congratulations to all concerned.

  2. Synonymous Howard


    Now that is how to plan and execute a project.

  3. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    That's a relief. Good little bot!

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Haha

      I have to say I was a bit worried that the (lander) mission would go as erratically as the live streaming :-)


  4. stu 4


    I'm sitting here at work with everyone running around like headless chickens trying to get a few SOA services talking to each other in a major airline...

    This kinda makes it all pale into insignificance!

    Can't wait for the piccies!

  5. AbelSoul


    Well done all involved. Tremendous achievement.

  6. phuzz Silver badge

    Nice work ESA! Have one of these >>>>>>>>>>>>

    (I'm assuming UKippers are angry that some of our taxes have gone towards this)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why would you make any such assumption ? Is 67P/C-G part of the EU ?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Um, no. The probe and the satellite that has carried it are from ESA, that is, the European Space Agency, and the UK pays something like £240m per year towards ESA.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "land on comet and return science"

    That's a big Kerbal Space Program contract fulfilled!

    Seriously though, I'm in awe. This was something really difficult. Personally I figured they had a 25% chance at most and I thought I was being optimistic.

    1. stucs201

      Re: "land on comet and return science"

      So when do they start observing the green goo?

      1. WraithCadmus

        Re: "land on comet and return science"

        Do you mean the mystery goo or the green scrapings on the launchpad?

        1. stucs201

          Re: "land on comet and return science"

          I just always thought of the goo as green. Green seems like the best colour for goo.

          Either that or its a sign it's too long since I played it.

        2. David Given

          Re: "land on comet and return science"

          Where do you think they get the mystery goo from?

  8. MrWibble

    Good work ESA! - I've barely got any work done myself due to tracking this thing (mainly through today's XKCD [ ], but the beeb are also showing a live feed from mission control)

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      I'd love someone showing all the variables they had to control again. If you look what they had to do just to get in sync with this rock it amplifies the awesomeness of what they managed to do.

      Yes, I know I sound like Kung Fu panda, but there is no better word for this :)

  9. WraithCadmus

    Up Goer Word Rock

    The flying space car has used line and grabbing fingers to hold the far away cold rock. It is talking to us through its friend space car near the far away cold rock. Now it has less than three days to do hard book work. We have gone into space today.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: Up Goer Word Rock

      Poul Anderson did it better

      Soothly we live in mighty years!

  10. monty75


    Hooray! Now can we get on with the plan to send Matthew McConaughey into deep space?

    1. Mtech25

      Re: Interstellar

      He will have to be added to the list so far i have,Justin beiber, All of one direction, Sting, Bono, Millie Cyrus and don't get me started on the amount of estate agents and lawyers we have.

      Or do you want him to actually come back?

      1. Blofeld's Cat

        Re: Interstellar

        "... and don't get me started on the amount of estate agents and lawyers we have ..."

        Maybe we could build three "arks" ...

  11. drzardoz

    The Flight Ops folks must have been awesome Lunar Lander players.....congrats to ESA...

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      They can't hear you, they're all at lunch at the McDonalds :-)

      // pub, more likely

  12. PleebSmash


    Panoramic photograph expected within an hour or so!

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: pics...or it didn't happen!

      Well done, team ESA!

      // SPB, are you taking notes?

    2. Semtex451

      Re: pics


      Hope its suitably high res and not just grey and amorphous. A great pic may not be most valuable scientifically but it'll be more great press for the fields of Engineering and Astronomy.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: pics

        The photo will likely be greyscale as it'll be generated from images taken in the non-visible spectrum.

        The comet is about twice the distance from the Sun as Mars (so 'daylight' is quite dim,) and the surface has an albedo similar to coal. Such conditions don't really lend themselves to colour photography.

  13. CowardlyLion

    Probably worth pointing out then that ESA is not an EU government body and even includes Canada.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Next those evil Canadians will want to muscle in on the Eurovision Song Contest...

  14. Mage Silver badge



    Now if I can only figure out a Jump Drive we can explore other star systems

  15. A J Stiles


    The comet is about 4 km. wide, and about half a terametre from Earth, so it subtends an angle of 8 nanoradians.

    By my back-of-the-fag-packet calculations, that's equivalent to firing a gun from London and hitting a target in Paris 3 micrometres wide.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Accuracy

      With a bullet a few picometers wide...

      1. A J Stiles

        Re: Accuracy

        Oh, now you've got me wanting to finish the calculation .....

        Right. Call Philae 1m by 1m., and call the comet 3 km. by 4 km. That gives Philae 12 000 000 times its own area to land in. If the ratio of areas is 12e6:1, then the ratio of diameters will be about 3400:1. So making the bullet 866 picometres across. About a single atom, then.

        Or, at full scale: Landing a washing machine within the city boundary of Derby, from 3.5 times as far away as the Sun.

  16. Daggersedge

    There is a problem with the harpons

    Philae landed, yes, but the harpons weren't deployed. It's just sitting on the surface of the comet; it isn't anchored there. They might be able to try to deploy the harpons again, but the position is a bit precarious at the moment.

    Still, well done for landing the thing in the first place. Whatever happens, it is a first in history. It is a proud moment for Europe.

    1. Sweep

      Re: There is a problem with the harpons

      It's attached by 3 ice screws on its feet.

  17. Stratman

    Boffinry at its most magnificent

    Have a pint

  18. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I am extremely impressed, and I shall be even more so

    If it can stay on board and powered for a quick trip to the sauna.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Nice job, ESA!!

    Just make sure you don't wake up anything hibernating inside the comet!!

  20. Carbon life unit 5,232,556

    Next time someone says its not rocket science

    Say "its not landing a small space craft on a rock travelling at 135,000Kph at over 6 billion Km away"

  21. Crysknife007

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pure class

    To even imagine you could really make this happen 20 odd years ago was sheer audacity in itself; to make it work is simply astonishing. Heartfelt congratulations to all the visionaries who made it actually happen - you won't top this one in a hurry.

    Here's hoping the results live up to it.

  23. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    ...although landing doesn't seem terribly accurate. It seems more like a docking manoeuvre.

  24. heyrick Silver badge


    "The ESA has succeeded in humanity’s first ever attempt to land a man-made probe on a comet" what was Hayabusa?

    (took off a decade ago, landed on a remote lump of rock, got lost in space, found, and managed to bring back a sample which arrived in 2010)

    1. David Knapman

      Re: ?

      A mission run by people who can distinguish the difference between comets and asteroids?

  25. Arnold Lieberman

    WHy no RTG?

    Seems strange to me that all that time, money and effort was expended to get there but the lander was limited to 64 hours work. There must be some good reasons why another power source could not have been used. Any ideas?

    1. Daniel Hutty

      Re: WHy no RTG?

      Another power source IS available - Philae has solar panels. However, they're not 100% sure that conditions on the surface will allow them to work sufficiently well to keep the bot going for any length of time*. Therefore they're assuming the worst - that the 64hr charge held by the battery is all they have - and are trying to fit all the high-priority tasks into that time; that way, any extra time provided by the solar cells is a bonus.

      *Remember, this is someone we've never been before - at design time they had literally no idea, for example, how much dust would have been thrown up by the landing, and what it's characteristics would be - will it stick to and coat the panels, reducing their efficiency? Also at design time they had no idea how strong the sunlight would be at the landing site, how many of the cells would end up in permenant shadow from surrounding geography, etc. They'll now be finding out some of the answers to this - and this information itself is part of the data scientists will spend the next few years wringing as much knowledge from as possible. It's all exciting stuff!

      1. Arnold Lieberman

        Re: WHy no RTG?

        Don't want to say "told you so", and I apologise for labouring the issue. The only people who must be happy about this are Greenpeace (no nukes in space). A power source that isn't dependent on environmental variables (such as not being stuck in shadow) must surely have merit.

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