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Philae's historic comet landing, in photos

On November 12, humanity landed a spacecraft on a comet for the first time ever. The European Space Agency's Philae probe separated from its mothership, Rosetta, and descended to the surface of comet 67P/C-G. After bouncing a few times, it finally stuck its landing. And all the while, Rosetta and Philae were taking images of this historic achievement. This is what they saw.

Here's the comet itself. After the Philae probe landed, it took these shots around itself of comet 67P/C-G:

Several views from the Philae lander, stitched together | ESA, compilation by Vox

Let's back up to the beginning. The Philae probe had initially gotten into space by hitching a ride with the spacecraft Rosetta. Earlier, Rosetta shot this selfie in which you can see its solar panels and the comet it was approaching:

Rosetta selfie | ESA

On November 12, Philae started the landing process. It separated from Rosetta to begin the descent. As Philae traveled down, it took a shot of its mothership, Rosetta. And Rosetta took some pictures back:

The Philae lander took this shot looking back when they were about 33 feet apart. You can see one of Rosetta's solar panel wings in the picture. | ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA
Philae descends to the surface. You can spy its legs in this gif. | ESA

This is what it looks like when you're about to land on a comet:

Philae used its own cameras to take this shot of the comet as it descended towards it. | ESA

As the world held its breath, Philae landed. And it took this shot of the comet's surface (left) just before it did:

Philae took this close-up shot of the comet's surface just before landing. | ESA
Illustration of what the Philae lander would look like on the surface. | ESA

The mission crew celebrated:

The mission crew in Germany celebrates Philae successfully landing the comet. | ESA
And celebration! | ESA via @geoffnotkin
And more celebration! | ESA via @Alterwired

The European Space Agency revealed that Philae had bounced after landing. It was planning to land in the red area on the map below, but bounced twice — the first time flying a kilometer up in the area and ended up somewhere in the blue diamond:

Map of planned and eventual landing sites. | ESA

Philae then sent back this image of what it looks like on the surface of a comet — the first such photo ever seen:

Then the Philae lander started sending images back from the surface. | ESA


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