XKCD Live-Sketched the Comet Landing Every Few Minutes for 12 Incredible Hours

The result: a 142-frame flipbook of real-time genius

Headshot of David Griner

If you missed the excitement and tension of Wednesday's Philae lander completing its 10-year journey to a comet's surface, here's a pretty fantastic way to relive it.

Web cartoonist Randall Munroe, creator of the massively popular xkcd, live-cartooned the Philae module's separation from the Rosetta spacecraft and its gradual, often nerve-wracking descent to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Despite the marketing and media world's obsession with producing real-time content, Munroe truly created something light years beyond what most big-budget brands or news outlets would attempt (or even imagine in the first place).

Here's how it all looks put together:

His 142-frame project spanned across 12 hours and charmingly captured both the scientific status of the lander's descent and the emotional uncertainty of scientists and fans back home. As with any project taking place hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth, the comet mission had its share of perilous moments, and several of the xkcd panels capture these brief (in retrospect, but heart-stopping in the moment) instances of doubt.

The animated GIF above was created by the Explain xkcd wiki, where you can also find a list, link and timestamp for every frame. There's also a fan-created version you can scroll back and forth through. 

Below are a few our favorite moments:

@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."