The Wright brothers took to the air in the first ever powered flight on December 17, 1903.
Now, just a little over 100 years later, history has been made with a controlled touchdown on a comet. A first!
A signal confirming the landing arrived at the mission control center at Darmstadt, Germany, just after 11 a.m. Eastern time today. Congratulations European Space Agency!
The room of scientist and space experts erupted in cheers. “We’re there and Philae is talking to us,” said Stephan Ulamec, the manager for the lander. “We are on the comet.”
The lander, Philae, and its 10 instruments have now begun 64 hours of scientific operations before its batteries drain. Solar panels will then recharge the batteries, allowing Philae to operate about one hour every two days.
The lander relied on ice screws on its landing legs and a couple of harpoons to keep it attached to the comet. Harpoons! Pretty cool. Rosetta was launched way back in 2004 and it took this long for it to reach the comet.
The Rosetta mission will achieve many historic firsts including passing through the main asteroid belt, flying close to Jupiter's orbit using solar cells as its main power source, orbiting a comet nucleus as well as flying alongside a comet as it heads towards the inner Solar System.
The lander has an official twitter account, @Philae2014. Success was confirmed in a tweet reading "Touchdown! My new address: 67P! #CometLanding