Read our COVID-19 research and news.

Slideshow: The best of this week’s comet pictures

In the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) control room in Darmstadt, Germany, the mood was anxious and all eyes were glued to the mission control computer screens as a spidery, three-legged lander named Philae detached from its parent spacecraft, Rosetta, and made its slow descent to the surface of a comet—and cheers and hugging broke out on 12 November when the control room received confirmation that the lander had arrived. The end may already be nigh for the lander—after bouncing on the surface, the craft appears to have settled in the shadow of a wall of material, preventing it from receiving enough sunlight to its solar cells to function for more than a few days—but ESA counts the mission as a major success. Images of Philae’s journey—haunting and stark—tell its story