Touchdown! Ecstatic Scientists Celebrate as Philae Lands on Comet

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Image: FRANCE-SPACE-EUROPE-ASTRONOMY-COMET
Scientists celebrate in the mission center of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on Nov.12, 2014, as they receive information that the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae has landed on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after a 12-mile descent from its carrier the European space probe Rosetta, following a ten-year journey. AFP - Getty Images

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Cheers erupted in mission centers in France and Germany Wednesday as the European Space Agency's Philae lander made an unprecedented touchdown on the surface of a comet.

Philae was released for its descent seven hours earlier by ESA's car-sized Rosetta spacecraft, which has been keeping pace with the comet since August. The boxy lander, which is about the size of a washing machine, made its way to the comet's surface at a leisurely walking pace — roughly 2 mph (1 meter per second).

Image: Handout photo of technician celebrating successful landing of Philae lander on comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the ESA headquarters in Darmstadt
An unidentified technician celebrates the successful landing of the Philae lander on comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the control room at the ESA headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, on Nov. 12.ESA via Reuters

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