MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the Philae landing craft being dropped by the Rosetta spacecraft onto the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The second part of the animation shows Philae landed on the surface of the comet. Philae was carried to the comet by Rosetta, which arrived at 67P in early August 2014, after a 10.5-year journey. Rosetta became the first spacecraft to rendezvous and enter orbit around a comet, and Philae will be the first controlled landing on a comet surface. On the surface, it will carry out a number of experiments to determine the composition and structure of the comet, and how it interacts with the solar wind. The comet is seen to be surrounded by a coma of material, produced as the Sun heats the comet, causing volatile compounds to boil off into space. In the surface view this is seen to be emitted from vents. It is this coma that is the visible part of a comet from Earth.
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