SESAME is an instrument complex built in international co-operation and carried by the Rosetta lander Philae intended to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The main goals of this instrument suite are to measure mechanical and electrical properties of the cometary surface and the shallow subsurface as well as of the particles emitted from the cometary surface. Most of the sensors are mounted within the six soles of the landing gear feet in order to provide good contact with or proximity to the cometary surface. The measuring principles, instrument designs, technical layout, operational concepts and the results from the first in-flight measurements are described. We conclude with comments on the consequences of the last minute change of the target comet and how to improve and to preserve the knowledge during the long-duration Rosetta mission.