IMAGINE you are travelling in a fast car and have to throw a little stone into a bucket at the side of the road. If you miss it, you will lose a billion dollars! That is roughly what scientists did two weeks ago – only it was even more difficult.
The European Space Agency’s (歐洲太空總署) Rosetta (羅塞塔) spacecraft flew near comet 67P, which is many millions of kilometres away. Then on 12 November, it sent a lander called Philae (菲萊) to the comet’s surface. It had to land on the comet whilst travelling at about 1,000 times that of a very fast car!
The whole mission was very complicated and lengthy. Rosetta was launched in March 2004. More than 10 years later, it finally arrived near the comet, and after another few more months, the lander finally touched down on the comet’s surface.
Unfortunately, Philae has ‘fallen asleep’ now due to technical problems. Hopefully it will ‘wake up’ again next spring and continue to collect and send valuable data to Earth before it ‘dies’.