Update 11 a.m. EST: ESA has received confirmation that Philae has successfully landed on the comet.



For the first time ever, a spacecraft will attempt to soft-land on a comet. The European Space Agency has deployed its Philae lander and the small craft will soon find a home on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

ESA launched the Rosetta spacecraft in 2004 with a three-part mission. The first part of the mission was to successfully rendezvous with a comet, which Rosetta successfully completed in August. Rosetta was placed into position and put into hibernation in 2011 before being woken up in Jan. 2014. While Rosetta is tagging along with the comet in its journey around the sun, it is collecting valuable science on the comet and the origins of the solar system. 

"Comets are considered the primitive building blocks of the solar system, and likely helped ‘seed’ the Earth with water, and maybe even life. By studying the nature of the comet’s dust and gas, Rosetta will help scientists learn more about the role of comets in the evolution of the solar system. Rosetta will be the first mission ever to orbit a comet’s nucleus and land a probe on its surface. It will also be the first spacecraft to fly alongside a comet as it heads toward the inner solar system, watching how a frozen comet is transformed by the warmth of the sun," explains ESA.



The second part of the Rosetta mission is the Philae lander. Philae will be deployed to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and drill into the surface of the celestial body. This will be the first ever soft landing on a comet and follows the first ever rendezvous with a comet by Rosetta. For the final part of the mission, Rosetta will travel with the comet around the sun, until the end of 2015, while Philae collects data from its surface.

With such a complicated mission, there are concerns that a glitch could scrap the mission entirely. ESA experienced such a problem Monday night when Philae failed to power up properly, but it was only a minor delay that did not hinder the mission. ESA had to wait for confirmation that Philae successfully deployed from Rosetta and the announcement was made around 6:20 a.m. EST.



Philae will land on the comet at Site J, now known as Agilkia, with confirmation expected around 11 a.m. EST. Philae will harpoon onto the comet and take the first photo from a comet's surface after it lands. You can watch ESA's broadcast here or NASA's live stream below.

Slooh, an international team of astronomers and observatories, will provide live footage of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko beginning at 2 p.m. EST.