Thursday 13 November 2014

Rosetta arrives

All over the news yesterday but I was busy: the ESA spacecraft Rosetta has reached Comet 67P after a ten year voyage through space. Its robot probe Philae has also successfully launched, and after a bit of a wobble, has landed securely on the surface of the comet to begin its measurements.

BBC: Rosetta Comet lander now stable

Some people are questioning whether this is a valuable use of resources. Given the enormous strides forward in everyday technology that have come from NASA's developments over the decades, the relatively young ESA has a lot to prove. However, with ESA, as well as the Chinese and Indian space agencies making huge steps forward, it is they we should be looking to for future breakthroughs. In any case, I believe that knowledge is in itself a worthwhile goal. Examination of this comet will hopefully teach us a great deal about the conditions of the early Solar System, which in turn tells us more about where our world came from. That is, in itself, a worthwhile endeavour. And after the explosion of the Antares rocket at launch and the crash of the VSS Enterprise in flight tests, setting back commercial spaceflight by months if not years (and costing one brave pilot his life) it's encouraging to see  such a triumph in the field.

Daily Mash: Comet landing empirically cool, so shut up

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