Defying odds, comet lander phones home

By REUTERS
November 15, 2014 04:21

 
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BERLIN - The mission of the first robotic probe to land on a comet reached a high point on Friday when the spacecraft radioed back to Earth that it had successfully drilled into the comet's body.

Scientists with the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission did not know if the small lander that touched down on the comet on Wednesday would have enough battery power to phone its findings back to Earth 300 million miles away. Rosetta's lander, called Philae, failed to anchor itself as planned on the comet's body, causing it to bounce and reland at about 1 km (.62 mile) away from its original target.

Photos and other data later relayed by Philae indicate it is trapped in shadow, suggesting it ended up by a cliff wall or inside a crater. With battery power dwindling, scientists sent commands for Philae to attempt to use its drill to obtain samples from the comet's body.

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