Europe's Philae Lander Makes Historic Touchdown on Comet

Updated: Nov 12, 2014 11:12 AM ET

After a suspense-packed, seven-hour descent, the European Space Agency's Philae lander made an unprecedented touchdown on the surface of a comet Wednesday — marking the high point of a $1.3 billion, 10-year mission.

Cheers erupted as the confirming signals were received at from the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, at 11:03 a.m. ET. The signals took 28 minutes to travel at the speed of light over the 317 million miles (510 million km) between Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Earth.

See the Rosetta Spacecraft's Best Photos of Comet 67P

ROLIS's (Rosetta Lander Imaging System) first photo of Comet 67P, taken as Philae lander approached its touchdown on the comet's surface.
This image shows comet 67P/CG and was acquired by the ROLIS instrument on the Philae lander during descent on Nov. 12, 2014, 14:38:41 UT from a distance of approximately 3 km from the surface.ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR/H
ROLIS's (Rosetta Lander Imaging System) first photo of Comet 67P, taken as Philae lander approached its touchdown on the comet's surface.
Selfie spacecraft and comet
The comet on Oct. 28, 2014.
The comet in a photo released on Aug. 6, 2014.
The comet on Sept. 26, 2014.
The comet on Oct. 18, 2014
The comet on Nov. 4, 2014.
The comet on Aug. 3, 2014.
This image shows comet 67P/CG and was acquired by the ROLIS instrument on the Philae lander during descent on Nov. 12,
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ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR/H
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