Space Science Center director weighs in on probe comet landing

Published: Nov. 12, 2014 at 10:58 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2014 at 11:28 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - We hit an entirely new milestone in space exploration on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

The European space agency landed a 220-pound, box-shaped space probe on the speeding comet more than 300 million-miles from earth.

It is the first time a soft landing has been achieved on a comet. It did so, hurdling through space at 40-thousand miles an hour.

The probe has been riding piggyback to the Rosetta spacecraft for more than 4 billion miles during a decade-long, $1.3 billion mission to catch up and hang on the comet.

Dr. Shawn Cruzen, the executive director of Columbus State University's Space Science Center, says this is a monumental accomplishment.

"So once that lander is on the surface it has an extended mission," Dr. Cruzen explained. "It'll stay on the surface of that comet for an extended time and it'll run a battery of experiments. While that happens the Rosetta space craft is still in orbit around the comet and as the comet makes it way towards the sun you will have these two spacecrafts continuing to study and take data on that comet."

Shortly after touchdown, the probe

"I'm on the surface but my harpoons did not fire."

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