Last week, humanity claimed its seventh celestial body, a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. OK, so it's not exactly a Class M planet, but it is a massive achievement by the European Space Agency.
After 10 years and a journey of 6.4 billion kilometers, they managed to conduct the first ever orbiting of a comet, followed by the first ever successful landing of a probe onto the surface.
The spacecraft called Rosetta was first launched back in 2004, since then it's been on a journey to track and eventually land on an ideal comet. Eventually, the ESA picked 67P, a 'rubber duck' shaped comet currently traveling at 84,000 mph.
The lander, known as Philae, successfully landed last week, though there was a slight hitch. Philae's harpoons failed to fire, and as such it bounced from the original landing site and landed in an area of shade. This is a big problem, since Philae needs 9 hours of sunlight a day to recharge. With this now impossible, the ESA had to rely on its onboard batteries to power its primary experiments - all of which it managed to conduct in time. With it's battery depleted, Philae entered sleep mode last weekend.
However, Rosetta is still orbiting the comet and it hasn't been idle. The mothership has already found out what a comet sounds like, and it's also snapped some rather incredible photos of the 2.5 square kilometer piece of space rock. Take a look at the landscape of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko below:
However, there is still some hope for plucky little Philae. Once 67P comes closer to the sun, there is a chance the lander will get enough sunlight to wake up and begin it's extended mission of further experiments. The best chance for that is likely to be next August, so this might not be the last we see of Philae, Rosetta or 67P. Huzzah!
These pictures are...