Rosetta and Philae: A New Step for Discovery

Artist's impression of Rosetta and Philae at the comet. Credit: ESA - C. Carreau/ATG medialab

"A robotic probe has landed on a comet, in an unprecedented moment for space exploration that could provide a trove of insights into what comets are made of and how they behave." -Gautam Naik, Wall Street Journal

• Rosetta is the first spacecraft to orbit a comet's nucleus.

• The Rosetta orbiter despatched a robotic lander, Philae, for the first controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus.

"'Maybe today we didn’t just land once but twice,' joked Stephan Ulamec, lander manager. In an interview, Dr. Ulamec noted that if the lander wasn’t anchored properly, it could imperil one important experiment—Philae’s plan to drill below the surface and analyze materials there." -Gautam Naik, Wall Street Journal

• Results from Rosetta have shown that comets contain complex organic molecules - compounds that are rich in carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

• By December 2015, both the spacecraft and the comet will have circled the Sun and be on their way out of the inner Solar System.

Agence France-Presse Getty Images

• French National Centre for Space Studies president Jean-Yves Le Gall, French President Francois Hollande and former French astronaut and minister Claudie Haignere wear 3D glasses to view the first results of the Rosetta mission. Rosett took 3D photos and video of the comet's surface.

This mission has put a new spark into space exploration. Discoveries from this mission can teach us new things about the ways that life may have come about. The path of the comet will take the orbiter and the lander through the inner Solar System, and eventually back out to the outer Solar System. The dicoveries that this mission will lead to many future scientific advancements and future space mission.


"Rosetta Mission's Probe Makes Historic Comet Landing." WSJ. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <>.

"Europe's Comet Chaser." European Space Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2015. <>.

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