The Philae lander, a European Space Agency, or ESA, probe that was the first man-made craft to land on a comet, has stabilized, after bouncing hundreds of meters from the comet's surface when it first attempted to touch down, according to reports. Philae was carried 4 billion miles to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the ESA's Rosetta satellite, according to the BBC.
Harpoon mechanisms that were to anchor the probe to the comet failed to deploy correctly, meaning that the probe bounced twice, rising hundreds of meters above the comet each time, and had to make three landing attempts before finally touching down on the comet, according to a report from The Independent.
The ESA tweeted what it says is the first image taken by the lander from the comet's surface.
â€” ESA Operations (@esaoperations) November 13, 2014
Rosetta Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo was the first to announce that the lander had finally reached the surface of the comet: "We see the lander sitting on the road. We've definitely confirmed that the lander is on the surface," he said, according to Discovery News.
However, some reports suggest that all is not as hoped with the craft, and that though it has touched down, it is not anchored to the comet.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the craft's situation is still precarious, and that scientists believe that it will not, for the immediate future, be able to conduct experiments, as there are fears that the craft may be propelled back into space. One source told Mail Online that the craft may have landed on its side, resulting in unpredictable behavior.
Philae is equipped with 10 instruments that will examine the chemistry and structure of the comet, allowing it to drill into its surface, according to Deutsche Welle, Germany's national broadcaster. It is hoped that the information gleaned might provide scientists with a greater understanding of the origins of the solar system.
Assuming that Philae gets up and running in the coming hours, the lander will have three days of battery power for scientific operations, but scientists hope to keep the lander running for up to six months on solar power, according the The Scientific American.