The European Space Agency (ESA) landed a probe on a comet on Wednesday, a first in space exploration and the climax of a decade-long mission to get samples from what are the remnants of the birth of Earth’s solar system.

The box-shaped 100-kg (220-pound) lander, named Philae, touched down on schedule at about 1600 GMT after a seven-hour descent from spacecraft Rosetta around half a billion kilometers (300 million miles) from Earth.

Scientists hope that samples from the surface of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will help show how planets and life are created as the rock and ice that make up the comet preserve organic molecules like a time-capsule.

Comets come from the formation of Earth’s 4.6-billion-year-old solar system. Scientists believe they may have brought much of the water in Earth’s oceans.

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