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Philae lands on a comet (pictures)

Space history is rarely made without some hiccups. Rosetta's lander, Philae, successfully reached its new comet home, but it's now in a precarious operating position.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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1 of 7 ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

First comet image from Philae

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains

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2 of 7 ESA/ATG medialab

Philae and its instruments

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains

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3 of 7 ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Farewell to Rosetta

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains

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4 of 7 ESA/J.Mai

Rosetta team celebrates

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains

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5 of 7 ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

First on-comet panoramic

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains


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6 of 7 Picasa

Dust on the comet's surface

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains

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7 of 7 ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Goodbye to Philae

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.

Related article: Rosetta's lost lander drills into comet as battery drains

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