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Europe’s Philae Lander Makes Historic Touchdown on Comet

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

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
Selfie spacecraft and comet
A 'selfie' composite image from a camera on the Rosetta mission’s Philae comet lander shows Comet 67P.ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The comet on Oct. 28, 2014.
Comet 67P on Oct. 28, 2014.ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The comet in a photo released on Aug. 6, 2014.
Comet 67P in a photo released on Aug. 6, 2014.ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The comet on Sept. 26, 2014.
Comet 67P on Sept. 26, 2014.ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The comet on Oct. 18, 2014
Comet 67P on Oct. 18, 2014ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The comet on Nov. 4, 2014.
Comet 67P on Nov. 4, 2014.ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The comet on Aug. 3, 2014.
Comet 67P on Aug. 3, 2014.ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Read next: See Pictures of Philae Detaching From Rosetta

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