n this November 10, 2014 handout photo illustration provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) the Rosetta probe (L) and Philae lander are pictured above the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

‘We are on the comet’

While terrestrial events can disappoint, it’s important to remember sometimes that humans are still capable of truly extraordinary accomplishments. Take today, for example, and this report from Alan Boyle.
The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/12/14, 9:53 PM ET

A medieval malfunction for the high tech Philae space lander

Rachel Maddow shares the fun, running coverage of the Philae lander by xkcd, and marvels at the amount of technology applied to landing a spacecraft on a comet with the only major malfunction being connected to one of humankind’s oldest technologies.
After a suspense-packed, seven-hour descent, the European Space Agency’s Philae lander made an unprecedented touchdown on the surface of a comet Wednesday – marking the high point of a $1.3 billion, 10-year mission.
Cheers erupted as the confirming signals were received at from the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, at 11:03 a.m. ET. The signals took 28 minutes to travel at the speed of light over the 317 million miles (510 million kilometers) between Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Earth.
Stefan Ulamec, Philae lander manager at the DLR German Aerospace Center, declared, “It is sitting on the surface. Philae is talking to us – we are on the comet.”
For more on this, our own Summer Ash took a closer look at the story a few days ago in our “Week in Geek” feature, and we’ll have even more on tonight’s show.
For now, here are some very happy folks at the European Space Agency who pulled off an amazing feat.
11/12/14, 2:37 PM ET

Flight crew: 'We are on the comet'

Flight Controllers at the European Space Agency celebrate the successful landing of the Philae lander onto the surface of comet 317.

Europe and Technology

'We are on the comet'