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Planetarium director “ecstatic” over success of probe landing on comet

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Ten years into the trip, scientists say it's a space success. On Wednesday morning, November 12th, word from the Rosetta spacecraft indicated the Philae lander was able to land successfully on an orbiting comet.

After an extended hibernation, on Wednesday morning, the Philae lander was able to make an historic cosmic connection.

"This spacecraft, Rosetta, was asleep for a couple years. Remember, this was launched back in 2004. This is the first time ever we landed on a comet. That's big news! We saw success, and I was ecstatic," Bob Bonadurer, the Milwaukee Public Museum's Planetarium Director said.

Bonadurer watched as the Rosetta spacecraft's Philae lander touched down on an estimated 2.5 mile wide comet.

"And why are comets important? Well, comets may be in you and me because comets may have supplied all the water on planet Earth -- and remember, humans are two-thirds water, so that's why this is a big deal," Bonadurer said.

This big deal will grow bigger if the lander is able to use its harpoons to secure itself to the comet and continue to provide information that could help scientists determine the origins of Earth itself.

"They're gonna still work on it, still talk to the spacecraft I'm sure, and hopefully we'll get even better news later on," Bonadurer said.

Even if the rest of the mission doesn't pan out as planned, Bonadurer says it's already earned status as a success.

"They're doing their science experiments on the way down -- taking measurements, taking photographs, doing all that. Rosetta even took a selfie a few weeks ago, so it's always doing the science, but to be on the surface hopefully for months now, we're gonna get even more information," Bonadurer said.

You won't get that information by searching the skies, since Bonadurer says only the world's best telescopes have any hope of providing a view of the comet.

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