Space agency says comet lander ends up in cliff shadow

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Space agency says comet lander ends up in cliff shadow
This November 13, 2014 handout photo provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows the surface of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet as seen from the Philae lander, which landed on the comet's surface. (Photo ESA via Getty Images)
This November 13, 2014 handout photo provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows the first panoramic 'postcard' from the surface of a comet returned by Rosetta's lander Philae. (Photo ESA via Getty Images)
We're signing off shortly, but we leave you with replay hlighlights of this afternoon's events https://t.co/K4IRFgsn2y
AUGUST 3: In this handout from the European Space Agency (ESA), the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen in a photo taken by the Rosetta spacecraft with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera August 3, 2014 in space. ESA's Rosetta spacecraft became the first to rendezvous with a comet and will follow it on the journey around the sun. (Photo by ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA via Getty Images)
"Maybe today we didn't just land once...we even landed twice!" #cometlanding https://t.co/SMzkcRTVWg
History has been made!! #rosetta has landed on the comet! The instant reaction in the media room at ESA in Darmstadt, Germany
I’m on the surface but my harpoons did not fire. My team is hard at work now trying to determine why. #CometLanding
DARMSTADT, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this November 12, 2014 handout photo provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) the Philae lander is pictured on its way to the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after a successful separation from the Rosetta probe. The image was taken with the lander's CIVA-P imaging system and captures one of Rosetta's 14 metre-long solar arrays. ESA later successfully landed Philae, making it the first man-made craft to ever land on a comet. The Philae lander, launched from the Rosetta probe, is a mini laboratory that will gather data on the comet. (Photo ESA via Getty Images)
Before we go, thanks to all of you for sharing this epic day with us and for all your messages cheering us on! #cometlanding
DARMSTADT, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this November 12, 2014 handout photo provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) the Philae lander is pictured on its way to the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after a successful separation from the Rosetta probe. ESA later successfully landed Philae, making it the first man-made craft to ever land on a comet. The Philae lander, launched from the Rosetta probe, is a mini laboratory that will gather data on the comet. (Photo ESA via Getty Images)
.@WilliamShatner touchdown confirmed for away team @philae2014, captain!
A model of Rosetta lander Philae stands on a model of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, at the European Space Agency ESA in Darmstadt, Germany, Wednesday, Nov.12, 2014. Europe's Rosetta space probe was launched in 2004 with the aim of studying the comet and learning more about one of the biggest questions about the origin of the universe. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
A model of the landing module 'Philae' is pictured at the ESA/ESOC (European Space Agency / European Space Operation Center) in Darmstadt, western Germany, on November 12, 2014, as European probe Philae is poised to land on a comet, the culmination of a historic quest to explore an enigma of the Solar System. After a trek of more than a decade, the mini lab called Philae separated on schedule from its mother ship Rosetta. Philae is to land on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet now more than 510 million kilometres (320 million miles) from Earth and racing towards the Sun. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientistswait for the first picture transmitted by the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae, in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a 20-kms (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from space probe Rosetta, following a 10-year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Thank you for the wonderful messages of support today; I’ll keep an eye on @philae2014 & we’ll have a status update tomorrow #CometLanding
National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) president Jean-Yves Le Gall (L), French President Francois Hollande and French astrophysicist Francis Rocard look at a model of Rosetta lander Philae during a broadcast of the Rosetta mission on the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet at the Cite des Sciences in Paris on November 12, 2014. A European probe made the first-ever landing on a comet in a quest to explore the origins of the Solar System, but there were concerns over whether it was fastened securely enough to carry out its mission. AFP PHOTO/POOL/JACQUES BRINON (Photo credit should read JACQUES BRINON/AFP/Getty Images)
DARMSTADT, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: Scientists celebrate in the main control room at ESA's Operations Centre, ESOC, as separation of the Philae lander from ESA Rosetta orbiter is confirmed on November 12, 2014. The lander separated from Rosetta earlier on Wednesday and headed towards the surface of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P which is moving at the speed of more than 80,000 miles (128,747 kilometers) per hour. The probe is named after the Rosetta stone, a stele of Egyptian origin and the lander is named after Philae, an island in Lake Nasser, Egypt. (Photo by European Space Agency/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Journalists film near a giant screen featuring Andrea Accomazzo (C), Rosetta flight operations director celebrating with European Space Agency (ESA) scientists after the announcement of the first-ever landing on a comet, done by European probe Philae, at theESA/ESOC in Darmstadt, western Germany, on November 12, 2014. The mini lab called Philae landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet climaxing a historic quest to explore one of the enigmas of the Solar System. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists look at the first picture transmitted by the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae, in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a 20-kms (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from space probe Rosetta, following a 10-year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists look on a computer screen at the first picture transmitted by the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae, in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a 20-kms (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from space probe Rosetta, following a 10-year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists look on a computer screen at the first picture transmitted by the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae, in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a 20-kms (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from space probe Rosetta, following a 10-year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists work in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as they wait for the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae to land on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from European space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
A scientist wears a t-shirt depicting the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a descent to land on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from European space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists look on a computer screen at the first picture transmitted by the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae, in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a 20-kms (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from space probe Rosetta, following a 10-year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists work in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as they wait for the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae to land on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from European space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
IN SPACE - AUGUST 3: In this handout from the European Space Agency (ESA), the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen in a detail photo taken by the Rosetta spacecraft with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera August 3, 2014 in space. ESA's Rosetta spacecraft became the first to rendezvous with a comet and will follow it on the journey around the sun. (Photo by ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA via Getty Images)
The logo of the European Space Agency (ESA) is seen at the ESA/ESOC (European Space Agency / European Space Operation Center) in Darmstadt, western Germany, on November 12, 2014, as European probe Philae is poised to land on a comet, the culmination of a historic quest to explore an enigma of the Solar System. After a trek of more than a decade, the mini lab called Philae separated on schedule from its mother ship Rosetta. Philae is to land on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet now more than 510 million kilometres (320 million miles) from Earth and racing towards the Sun. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman sits beside a computer screen where is seen the first picture transmitted by the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae, in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as Philae carries out a 20-kilometre (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
A man stands near a model of the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae as he visits the Cite de l'espace (Space City) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, on the day Philae began a 20-kilometre (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from the space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Scientists follow the flight of the Rosetta spacecraft from the control centre of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Darmstadt, western Germany, on August 6, 2014. After a decade-long quest spanning six billion kilometres the European Rosetta probe comes face to face with the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The moment marks a key phase of the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the European Space Agency. (BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Graphic shows Europe's unmanned Rosetta probe.
Scientists follow the flight of the Rosetta spacecraft from the control centre of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Darmstadt, western Germany, on August 6, 2014. After a decade-long quest spanning six billion kilometres the European Rosetta probe comes face to face with the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The moment marks a key phase of the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the European Space Agency. (BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - This image provided by the European Space Agency ESA shows an artist'€™s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale; the Rosetta spacecraft measures 32 m across including the solar arrays, while the comet nucleus is thought to be about 4 km wide. Scientists at the European Space Agency are expecting their comet-chasing probe Rosetta to wake from almost three years of hibernation at 11 a.m. Monday Jan. 20, 2014 (1000 GMT; 5 a.m. EST) and phone home to say all is well. (AP Photo/ESA, C.Carreau, File)
This combination photo provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) on July 10, 2010 shows the asteroid "Lutetia" shot by the comet chaser "Rosetta". The European Space Agency has taken the closest look yet at asteroid Lutetia in an extraordinary quest some 280 million miles in outer space between Mars and Jupiter. The comet-chaser Rosetta transmitted its first pictures from the largest asteroid ever visited by a satellite Saturday night July 10, 2010 after it flew by Lutetia as close as 1,900 miles (3,200 kilometers), ESA said in Darmstadt, Germany. (AP Photo/ESA)

Using the CIVA camera on Rosetta's Philae lander, the spacecraft have snapped a 'selfie' at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko from a distance of about 16 km from the surface of the comet. The image was taken on 7 October and captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of Rosetta's 14 m-long solar wings, with the comet in the background.

Two images with different exposure times were combined to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation. The comet's active 'neck' region is clearly visible, with streams of dust and gas extending away from the surface. (European Space Agency)

What @philae2014 will do to keep busy during the 7hr descent to #67P: http://t.co/xEDMqcURZT #CometLanding http://t.co/EiOomNLg4p
In this handout illustration from the European Space Agency (ESA), the Rosetta spacecraft is seen. ESA's Rosetta spacecraft became the first to rendezvous with a comet and will follow it on the journey around the sun. (Photo by ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA via Getty Images)
How I’m going to get into position to deploy @philae2014 (& what I do afterwards!): http://t.co/Z2A14IxE6U #67P #CometLanding
AUGUST 3: In this handout from the European Space Agency (ESA), the comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen in a photo taken by the Rosetta spacecraft with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera August 3, 2014 in space. ESA's Rosetta spacecraft became the first to rendezvous with a comet and will follow it on the journey around the sun. (Photo by ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA via Getty Images)
Scientists follow the flight of the Rosetta spacecraft from the control centre of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Darmstadt, western Germany, on August 6, 2014. After a decade-long quest spanning six billion kilometres the European Rosetta probe comes face to face with the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The moment marks a key phase of the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the European Space Agency. (BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images)
The European Ariane V rocket, carrying spacecraft Rosetta, stands at its launching pad at the Kourou space base, French Guiana, Wednesday Feb. 25, 2004 in this photo provided by the European Space Agency. The rocket will propel the Rosetta craft into space Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004. If the mission succeeds, it will break new ground by placing a lander on a swift, icy comet. (AP Photo/ESA/CNES/Arianespace)
The European Ariane V rocket, carrying spacecraft Rosetta, stands at its launching pad at the Kourou space base, French Guiana, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004, in this photo provided by the European Space Agency. The rocket will propel the Rosetta craft into space Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004. If the mission succeeds, it will break new ground by placing a lander on a swift, icy comet. (AP Photo/ESA/CNES/Arianespace)
Scientists work in the scientific mission observation centre of the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, as they wait for the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae to land on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from the space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
The entrance of the ESA/ESOC (European Space Agency / European Space Operation Center) in Darmstadt, western Germany, is pictured on November 12, 2014, as European probe Philae is poised to land on a comet, the culmination of a historic quest to explore an enigma of the Solar System. After a trek of more than a decade, the mini lab called Philae separated on schedule from its mother ship Rosetta. Philae is to land on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet now more than 510 million kilometres (320 million miles) from Earth and racing towards the Sun. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukraine's Klim Churyumov, astronomer and co-discoverer of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, talks to media at the European Space Agency ESA in Darmstadt, Germany, Wednesday, Nov.12, 2014. Europe's Rosetta space probe was launched in 2004 with the aim of studying the comet and learning more about the origins of the universe. On Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 the Philae lander detached from Rosetta and started it's descent to the 4-kilometer-wide (2.5-mile-wide) 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
DARMSTADT, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe is set to make history by landing its robot craft Philae on a comet on November 12, 2014. The lander separated from Rosetta earlier on Wednesday and headed towards the surface of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P which is moving at the speed of more than 80,000 miles (128,747 kilometers) per hour. The probe is named after the Rosetta stone, a stele of Egyptian origin and the lander is named after Philae, an island in Lake Nasser, Egypt. (Photo by European Space Agency/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A picture shows a model of the European Space Agency's (ESA) robot craft Philae at the the Cite de l'espace (Space City) in Toulouse, southern France, on November 12, 2014, the day Philae began a 20-kilometre (12-mile) descent toward the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet after being launched from the space probe Rosetta, following a ten year journey. Europe's Rosetta spacecraft made contact with its robot craft Philae soon after the lander embarked on November 12 on a solo, seven-hour descent to a comet, ground controllers said. Astrophysicists hope Philae will unlock knowledge about the origins of the Solar System and even life on Earth, which some believe may have started with comets 'seeding' the planet with life-giving carbon molecules and water. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists film near a giant screen featuring Andrea Accomazzo (C), Rosetta flight operations director celebrating with European Space Agency (ESA) scientists after the announcement of the first-ever landing on a comet, done by European probe Philae, at theESA/ESOC in Darmstadt, western Germany, on November 12, 2014. The mini lab called Philae landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet climaxing a historic quest to explore one of the enigmas of the Solar System. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists film near a giant screen featuring Andrea Accomazzo (R), Rosetta flight operations director celebrating with European Space Agency (ESA) scientists after the announcement of the first-ever landing on a comet, done by European probe Philae, at the ESA/ESOC in Darmstadt, western Germany, on November 12, 2014. The mini lab called Philae landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet climaxing a historic quest to explore one of the enigmas of the Solar System. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)
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BERLIN (AP) -- Europe's comet lander Philae has come to rest in the shadow of a cliff, posing a potential problem for its solar panels, scientists said Thursday as they published the first image ever taken from the surface of a comet.

The photo shows a rocky terrain, with one of the lander's three feet in the corner of the frame. It is part of a slew of data that Philae is transmitting back to Earth, indicating that its instruments are working properly, said Jean-Pierre Bibring, the lander's lead scientist at the European Space Agency.

Before deciding whether to try to adjust the lander, scientists will spend the next day or two collecting as much data as possible while its primary battery still has energy. The lander's solar panels were designed to provide an extra hour of battery life each day after that, but this may not be possible now.

"We see that we get less solar power than we planned for," said Koen Geurts of the lander team.

"This, of course, has an impact on our energy budget and our capabilities to conduct science for an extended period of time," he said. "Unfortunately this is not a situation that we were hoping for."

The lander scored a historic first Wednesday, touching down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a decade-long, 6.4 billion-kilometer (4 billion-mile) journey through space aboard its mother ship, Rosetta. The comet is streaking through space at 41,000 mph (66,000 kph) some 311 million miles (500 million kilometers) from Earth.

The landing was beset by a series of problems that began when thrusters meant to push Philae onto the comet failed. Then two harpoons, which should have anchored the lander to the surface, weren't deployed.

This caused the lander to bounce off the comet and drift through the void for two hours before touching down again. After a second smaller bounce, scientists believe it came to rest in a shallow crater on the comet's 4 kilometer-wide body, or nucleus.

"We are just in the shadow of a cliff," Bibring said, adding that photos indicate the cliff could be just a few yards (meters) away. "We are in a shadow permanently, and that is part of the problem."

Bibring and his colleagues stressed that the data they'll be able to collect with the primary batteries alone will have made the landing worthwhile.

"A lot of science is getting covered now," he said, noting that scientists would soon get their hands on a tomography of the comet and data showing whether the matter it is made of is magnetized.

But because the lander is just resting on the comet with nothing but low gravity holding it down, Philae will have to hold off on one of the most important experiments - drilling into the comet to extract some of the material buried beneath the surface.

Scientists want to analyze this material because it has remained almost unchanged for 4.5 billion years, making them cosmic time capsules.

"Drilling without being anchored and without knowing how you are on the surface is dangerous. We might just tip over the lander," said Stephan Ulamec, head of the lander operation. Gravity on the comet is 1/100,000th that of Earth, meaning the washing machine-sized lander weighs just 1 gram (0.04 ounces) there.

Ground controllers will likely wait until the first big batch of data has been collected before attempting to adjust the lander so that its solar panels can catch the sun and charge its batteries.

Communication with the lander is slow, with signals taking more than 28 minutes to travel between Earth and the Rosetta orbiter flying above the comet.

Even if Philae uses up all of its energy, it will remain on the comet in a mode of hibernation for the coming months. In theory it could wake up again if the comet passes the sun in such a way that the solar panels catch more light, said Ulamec.

Meanwhile the orbiter, Rosetta, will also use its 11 instruments to analyze the comet over the coming months. Scientists hope the 1.3 billion euro ($1.6 billion) project will help them better understand comets and other celestial objects, as well as possibly answer questions about the origins of life on Earth.
We Just Landed on a Comet

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