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Landing on a comet

4 minutes

What it’s like to land on a comet 300 million miles away

Hailed as ‘one of the greatest successes in the history of space exploration’, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission marked the first time humans have successfully landed a space probe on a comet. While Rosetta made major headlines in 2014 when its lander, called Philae, touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the dedicated team of scientists and engineers behind the mission had laboured for 20 years on its innovative design. In this short documentary, Stephan Ulamec of the German Aerospace Center details the patience, inevitable uncertainty and nerve-wracking anticipation that accompanies landing a spacecraft on an object hurling through space at more than 11 miles per second, 300 million miles away.

Video by Lonelyleap and BBC Future

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Essay/
Automation & Robotics
Robot says: Whatever

What stands in the way of all-powerful AI isn’t a lack of smarts: it’s that computers can’t have needs, cravings or desires

Margaret Boden

Essay/
Future of Technology
The blitzscaling illusion

All the great inventions took painstaking, risky, indirect routes to fruition. Has Silicon Valley really escaped history?

Edward Tenner