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Rosetta's Philae Space Probe Sends First Pictures From Surface Of A Comet

12/11/2014 18:40 GMT | Updated 12/11/2014 18:59 GMT

Despite a tricky landing, the European Space Agency's Philae probe has begun to send data back to Earth from the surface of a comet.

The craft became the first manmade object to make a soft landing on a comet on Wednesday.

After initial joy at ESA HQ in Germany scientists were puzzled after it emerged the craft's harpoons had not fired. There remain fears that the craft could be unstable and might not be able to complete all of the experiments planned for its mission.

However that concern did not temper the ecstatic reception by scientists and officials, especially after the craft sent this picture back - its first, from just 3km above the surface, followed by another from the surface itself:

Speaking from Darmstadt, Rosetta's colourfully tattooed British project scientist Dr Matt Taylor told the BBC: "To see this mountaineering effort, that we've descended a lander to the surface of a comet; I can't put words to it. It's beautiful.

"We did a good job. I knew we were going to do it."

Apparently contradicting the report from Dr Geurts, he said both the harpoons and the ice screws had been deployed.

Dr Taylor added: "We're down there and we're doing science.

"We started science with the Rosetta orbiter in May this year. Now the lander is on the surface it will progress through a number ofsequences. We'll be drilling into the surface of the comet, taking samples, sniffing them, tasting them. We'll also be getting panoramic images.

"All of this has never been done before."

UK scientists are involved in ten of the 21 experiments that Rosetta will carry out during its mission.

British engineers have also made major contributions to the mission's electrical, software and imaging systems.