Humankind has conquered a comet. This two-image mosaic was the first to be sent back from the surface of a comet after Rosetta's Philae lander came to a dramatic stopping point. The lander's position in a shady spot may mean it runs out of battery power much more quickly than originally expected. It is still working to gather as much data as possible and relay it back to Earth.
The Philae lander contains instruments designed to collect data on the composition of the comet and its surrounding environment. After Philae had successfully landed on the comet, the Rosetta mission team instructed the lander to drill into the surface, analyze the collected material and report back on its findings.
Philae departed from its mother ship on the way to landing on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after catching a 10-year ride with the Rosetta spacecraft. This image was taken by Philae shortly after separation and shows Rosetta.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta team back on Earth reacted with cheers and tears when the news came back that the Philae lander had successfully touched down on the comet it had been chasing for over a decade. The man with his hand in front of his eye is Rosetta flight director Andrea Accomazzo.
The Rosetta mission's Philae lander took the very first panoramic image from the surface of a comet not long after it settled into place on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image shows a 360-degree view around the final landing site, which was reached after the lander bounced twice before coming to a stop in an unexpectedly shaded area.
A downward-facing camera on the Rosetta mission's Philae lander caught this view on the comet's surface as it was descending for landing. The image shows dust and debris and was taken from about 130 feet above the comet. The lander ended up bouncing off its intended landing site. The European Space Agency is attempting to pinpoint its final location.
After traveling together for over 10 years, the Rosetta spacecraft released the Philae lander to head down to the surface of the comet they had both been chasing. This image was taken by one of Rosetta's cameras after the lander separated from the mother ship.