Landing on a comet – a first

By May 2014, Rosetta was just 934,000 kilometres from the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It then spent several weeks conducting a rendezvous manoeuvre. In August 2014, a mere 100 kilometres from the comet, the orbiter bagin mapping its target to locate a suitable landing site for Philae. The actual touchdown point was defined in October 2014: landing site 'Agilkia', formerly known as 'J' on the comet head.

The lander, Philae, separated from its parent craft on 12 November 2014. But, instead of immediately firing his harpoons to anchor itself on the surface, the lander rebounded after the first touchdown and did not touch down again for another two hours - at around 18:25 CET. Then came another hop, until the lander came to rest at 18:32 CET. The Philae lander performed about 56 hours of continuous scientific measurements on the surface of Comet 67P, he entered sleep mode at 01:36 CET on 15 November 2014. The two spacecraft will now accompany the comet on its month-long journey to the point at which it is closest to the Sun.

Last modified: 26/03/2015 11:47:02

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Dr.rer.nat. Ekkehard Kührt
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Planetary Research, Asteroids and Comets

Tel.: +49 30 67055-514

Fax: +49 30 67055-340
Dr Stephan Ulamec
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC), Space Operations and Astronaut Training

Tel.: +49 2203 601-4567
Elke Heinemann
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Tel.: +49 2203 601-2867

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249

Course of the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko


The German Aerospace Center (DLR) Lander Control Center (LCC) is responsible for the operation and commanding the Philae lander.

Landing of Philae on the comet

Landung von Philae auf dem Kometen

In mid-November 2014, the Philae lander will descend onto the target comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (Frame from 'Chasing A Comet – The Rosetta Mission'.)

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