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Timeline: Comet Probe's 10-Year Journey

This article is more than 5 years old.

The European Space Agency said it landed a spacecraft on a comet Wednesday for the first time ever. The Philae craft pulled off the audacious landing hours after it was released toward the giant ball of dust and ice by the unmanned Rosetta space probe.

The landing is the highlight of a decade-long mission to link up with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Here's a look at key moments during Rosetta's incredible trip:

March 2, 2004: Europe's unmanned probe Rosetta takes off from Kourou, French Guiana, after a series of delays, including an abandoned January 2003 launch window because of a rocket problem.

The European Ariane V rocket, carrying spacecraft Rosetta, stands at its launching pad at the Kourou space base, French Guiana, Wednesday Feb. 25, 2004. (AP/ESA/CNES/Arianespace)
The European Ariane V rocket, carrying spacecraft Rosetta, stands at its launching pad at the Kourou space base, French Guiana, Wednesday Feb. 25, 2004. (AP/ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

Feb. 25, 2007: Rosetta carries out a close flyby of Mars. European Space Agency's mission control breaks out in applause after the end of 15 tense minutes of radio silence as the craft passes behind the Red Planet.

Space Scientists at the ESA European Space Operation Center in Darmstadt, southwestern Germany, operate the Rosetta Mission during its fly-by of Mars Sunday, Feb. 25. 2007. (Daniel Roland/AP)
Space Scientists at the ESA European Space Operation Center in Darmstadt, southwestern Germany, operate the Rosetta Mission during its fly-by of Mars Sunday, Feb. 25. 2007. (Daniel Roland/AP)
In this photo provided by the European Space Agency, Mars is seen by Rosetta's navigation camera during an approach on Saturday Feb. 24, 2007. (AP/ESA)
In this photo provided by the European Space Agency, Mars is seen by Rosetta's navigation camera during an approach on Saturday Feb. 24, 2007. (AP/ESA)

Sept. 5, 2008: Probe successfully passes close to an asteroid 250 million miles from Earth. The spacecraft loses its radio signal for 90 minutes as planned during the flyby of the Steins asteroid, also known as Asteroid 2867.

An European Space Agency image shows an artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft flying by asteroid Steins on Sept. 5, 2008, with a closest approach distance of 800 kilometers. (AP/ESA/C.Carreau)
An European Space Agency image shows an artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft flying by asteroid Steins on Sept. 5, 2008, with a closest approach distance of 800 kilometers. (AP/ESA/C.Carreau)

July 10, 2010: Between Mars and Jupiter, Rosetta transmits its first pictures from the largest asteroid ever visited by a satellite after it flies by Lutetia as close as 1,900 miles (3,200 kilometers). It is the closest look to date at the Lutetia asteroid.

This photo, provided by the European Space Agency on July 10, 2010 shows the asteroid Lutetia shot by the comet chaser Rosetta. (ESA/AP)
This photo, provided by the European Space Agency on July 10, 2010 shows the asteroid Lutetia shot by the comet chaser Rosetta. (ESA/AP)

Jan. 20, 2014: Waking after almost three years of hibernation, Rosetta sends its first signal back to Earth. Systems had been powered down in 2011 to conserve energy, leaving scientists in the dark for 31 months.


Aug. 6, 2014: Rosetta swings alongside comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko somewhere between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

In this picture taken on Aug. 3, 2014 by Rosetta’'s narrow-angle camera, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is pictured from a distance of 285 kms. (AP/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team)
In this picture taken on Aug. 3, 2014 by Rosetta’'s narrow-angle camera, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is pictured from a distance of 285 kms. (AP/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team)

Nov. 12, 2014: The probe releases the Philae lander and it drops to the comet's surface. Seven hours later, Philae touches down on the comet.

The picture of the Philae lander released by the European Space Agency ESA on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 was taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS system shortly after its separation from the mother spaceship. (ESA/AP)
The picture of the Philae lander released by the European Space Agency ESA on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 was taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS system shortly after its separation from the mother spaceship. (ESA/AP)
Scientists celebrated in the main control room at the European Space Agency after the first unmanned spacecraft Philae landed on a comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (Michael Probst/AP)
Scientists celebrated in the main control room at the European Space Agency after the first unmanned spacecraft Philae landed on a comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (Michael Probst/AP)

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