Comet 67P, where a European spacecraft landed last year, makes closest approach to the sun

The comet where a European spacecraft landed last year has made the closest approach to the sun of its 6 ½-year orbit.

The European Space Agency said comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko reached its closest point to the sun, known as perihelion, at 0203 GMT Thursday.

That put it some 186 million kilometers (116 million miles) from the sun. It will now swing back out on an orbit that takes it as far away as 800 million kilometers (500 million miles).

ESA’s Philae lander touched down on 67P in November. Philae sent back reams of data before running out of power; it started sending signals again in June as its solar panels got more light, but communication has been sporadic. The mission is focusing on mother craft Rosetta, which is following the comet.

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