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NASA: Comet landing is big step toward 'moving off this planet'

After the first successful touchdown on a comet, a NASA director couldn't contain his excitement, declaring the Rosetta mission a key step toward "taking" the entire solar system.

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Philae snapped this shot of its landing area during descent. ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

A NASA honcho says the successful soft landing of a European probe on a comet rocketing around the sun Wednesday should inspire humanity to claim its manifest destiny throughout the solar system.

The agency's planetary science head, Jim Green, was the most elated speaker at the celebratory press conference following the announcement that the European Space Agency's Philae probe had successfully touched down on Comet 67P /Churyumov-Gerasimenko Wednesday.

"How audacious! How exciting!" Green shouted. "The solar system is mankind's -- this mission is the first step to take it. It's ours... It's these steps that will lead us beyond this planet and on to Mars and out into the solar system."

NASA is currently looking at sending humans to Mars in the 2030s, but others like Elon Musk and Mars One hope to reach that milestone several years earlier.

Timelines aside, Green concluded his remarks by thanking ESA for undertaking the ambitious mission -- Philae spent a decade traveling hundreds of millions of miles to the comet aboard the Rosetta spacecraft -- and underscoring the existential importance of building off the success.

"I truly believe that a single planet species will not survive long. It's our destiny to move off this planet."

But before we can begin setting up shop on other parts of the solar system, Philae will have to manage to anchor itself to the comet. As of this writing, the lander's team was still having trouble getting the anchoring harpoons that lock the robot to the comet for its long ride to find purchase in the surface of the space rock.

Good luck, little robot. My future vacation to Europa could depend on your success.