Good morning, and happy Thursday. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Space probe makes historic landing on comet
The European Space Agency's Philae lander sent back its first image Thursday after safely landing on the surface of a comet, marking the high point of a $1.3 billion, 10-year mission. The lander is said to be "stable" despite a failure to latch on properly to the rocky terrain. The lander’s job will be to drill down into the comet and collect samples — essentially helping to decipher the chemistry of the early solar system. Read more in SCIENCE.
2. Record cold descends on most of U.S.
Early winter weather has brought snow, arctic air and freezing temperatures across the Plains and Midwest, and it looks like that deep freeze is here to stay. Or at least through the middle of next week. The National Weather Service said temperatures will plummet to 25 to 40 degrees below normal across much of the northern and central United States. New England is expected to experience light snow, but up to a foot of it is expected to fall in the Great Lakes region. Read more in NEWS.
Meanwhile, NBC’s indefatigable weatherman Al Roker will try to break the record for longest uninterrupted live weather report, which is being streamed online. He’s going for 34 hours — and could reach the record if he hangs on until about 8 a.m. Friday. Follow him at TODAY.
3. When does a cease-fire stop being a cease-fire?
NATO leaders said Wednesday that Russia is still supplying artillery and tanks into eastern Ukraine to help pro-Moscow separatists. The claim — denied by Russia’s foreign ministry — comes after a supposed truce in September after weeks of fighting. The cease-fire has been effectively violated, according to the group OSCE, which is monitoring the conflict. “Since the Minsk agreement ... we have more than 2,400 breaches of the cease-fire by militant groups. More than 100 Ukrainian soldiers and dozens of civilians have been killed,” an OSCE representative said. Read more in NEWS.
4. Window washers rescued at World Trade Center
The drama some 68 stories up in the air at the World Trade Center ended safely for the two window washers stuck on scaffolding for about 90 minutes. The scaffolding apparently broke, leaving the men dangling at a precarious angle. But the workers were in harnesses and secure while they were trapped, fire officials said. Fire crews had to cut through a window to pull the scaffolding — and the cold and frightened men — inside. Read more in NEWS.
5. Chilling 911 calls from school shooting released
The teacher at Marysville Pilchuck High School, north of Seattle, who was commended for helping to stop a deadly cafeteria shooting last month, could be heard pleading for help in a 911 call. “Blood is everywhere. I do not see the gun. I have him down,” said social studies teacher Megan Silberberger. Her harrowing call highlights the chaos at the school, when student Jaylen Fryberg opened fire — ultimately killing four other students and himself. A fifth student survived. Read more in NEWS.
6. Bono has mid-air scare during flight
The U2 frontman and four friends were traveling on a Learjet 60 from Dublin to Germany on Wednesday when a rear door broke off. While the plane landed safely, pilots only learned of the mishap after arriving in Germany. But the crew and passengers weren’t in any serious danger, officials said. The door, which covers the luggage compartment at the back of the plane, is not connected to the pressurized cabin, so there was no loss of pressure when the door detached. Read more in NEWS.
And now this …
Emperor penguins don't like to be bothered, so the most adorable robot ever is helping researchers to monitor them.