Rosetta lander starts descent to comet in historic space mission

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 12, 2014 5:02 AM

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European scientists launched a probe from spaceship Rosetta on Wednesday in an historic attempt to examine the surface of a comet, starting a seven-hour descent that is seen as the most difficult phase of a ten-year mission.

The European Space Agency earlier gave the final go-ahead for separation of the lander, named Philae, from Rosetta, which has been orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since August.

"Now it's up to gravity to bring it down," Stefan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager from German Aerospace Center DLR said.

The probe is expected to touch down at around 1030 ET and confirmation of the landing is expected some 30 minutes later.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Maria Sheahan; editing by John Stonestreet)