Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Science Sunday Blog









On Nov. 12, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander made history. 

The lander successfully made it to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Scientists confirmed the landing at a little bit after 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT).



This photo shopped image gives you an idea as to the size of Comet 67P:






More on this historic achievement HERE.


And here:

Philae Spacecraft to Drill into Comet As Battery Life Dwindles

15 comments:

Jerry Critter said...

Well, I am no scientist, so maybe it landed or maybe not. I am sure that there are opinions on both sides. I will have to wait and see.

Infidel753 said...

The video in the first link gives a very good sense of the difficulty involved and therefore the magnitude of the achievement. Besides the problems posed by the comet's speed, spin, and instability, it's so small that its gravity is negligible compared to a planet's, making it even harder to "land" on.

Also, landings on objects further than the Moon are carried out under the sole control of whatever onboard systems the spacecraft has. The mission team on Earth cannot control or even intervene, because it takes too long for radio signals to reach objects at interplanetary distances (I think 28 minutes to reach the present location of Philae's comet, for example).

It's hardly surprising that a high percentage of space missions are failures. We're really pushing our technology to its limits here.

Several groups, each for their own reasons, push the meme that Europe is in some kind of decline. The Rosetta mission, CERN, the vast amount of high-level research being done there, etc., serve as useful reminders of how wrong that is.

Infidel753 said...

Jerry: Comets are only a theory.

Jerry Critter said...

And, in many respects, it is 10 year old technology.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Comets are only a theory."

And as one of their Baggers would proudly say, it is a lie "straight from the pit of Hell."

There's your modern GOPer, talking just like a prelate from the Dark Ages.

Ducky's here said...

As Infidel points out, this was a pretty complex mission. It was also a government project.

Reminds me of the rocket that exploded on launch in North Carolina. It was a private development but the right wing blogs were very insistent that NASA had compromised the mission. They pretty much backed off after Richard Branson's vehicle failed in its test flight.

Make of it what you will.

billy pilgrim said...

for research and development we should have nuked it. scientists talk about previous mass extinctions caused by meteor impact so a little target practice would be in order.

Shaw Kenawe said...

billy,

Whaa? Can't answer you right now. I'm on my way to the cabbage store.

Я буду отвечать на вас позже.

Dave Miller said...

This was such a huge deal... seriously, landing on a moving comet years away from here?

A scientific marvel...

Infidel753 said...

As Infidel points out, this was a pretty complex mission. It was also a government project.

Good point. It's also an international project requiring cooperation by several European countries (as well as some participation by Americans). The ESA is mostly French and German, but even that means close collaboration between two advanced and rather proud nations which were bitter enemies for generations. If they were still sunk in the unilateralism and suspicion of anything foreign that seems to animate the baggers, this mission could never have happened.

Infidel753 said...

for research and development we should have nuked it. scientists talk about previous mass extinctions caused by meteor impact so a little target practice would be in order.

The target practice is accomplished. We (or at least the Europeans) have demonstrated the ability to deliver a machine probably comparable in mass to a nuclear warhead onto the surface of a fast-moving object and anchor it there. Sending an actual nuclear bomb would have contributed nothing further to the demonstration and would have been somewhat dangerous (rockets sometimes explode or go off course at launch, and such an event with a rocket carrying a nuclear bomb would have risked radioactive contamination of surrounding areas on Earth).

Shaw: Whaa?

He's referring to a long-contemplated strategy for preventing disastrous asteroid impacts on Earth in the future. Major radio telescopes like Arecibo are monitoring all the asteroids, comets, and miscellaneous junk that passes through the inner solar system, with an eye to finding out if any of them are in orbits which would someday bring them into collision with our planet. Through these efforts, there's a good chance we would know about such an impact decades or even centuries before it happened. Then, we could use a mission similar to Rosetta to deliver a hydrogen bomb (or several) to the threatening object to detonate on its surface, nudging it into a slightly different orbit in which it would miss Earth. Realistically, the Rosetta mission has already proven that we could indeed do this.

Rational Nation USA said...

But but but, is it god's will

:-) ;-)-) :-) ;-)

I've always marveled at the concept of a god who would desire his "creations" not use the full capacity of the intellect "he created" to their full rational advantage.

But then not being of the faith it is to be expected. Right?

Anonymous said...

Warhead technology has progressed a little. The warhead can be armed after take off and an explosion won't happen even if the rocket explodes.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Billy Pilgrim: “we should have nuked it

Infidel: “Then, we could use a mission similar to Rosetta to deliver a hydrogen bomb …

Is nothing sacred? A newly discovered object in space untouched for billions of years; yet the human imagination immediately turns to thoughts of destruction for no reason at all.

Conquer this! Bomb that! Nuke the great, great ancestor of your amino acids. This callous disregard reminds of the first European explorers and their annihilation of indigenous peoples. It reminds me of the near extinction of native bird populations - killed for their plumage or wantonly used for target practice. Pillage and ravish every pristine landscape! Trash the Universe!

You humanoids are the demolition derby of all Creation.

Infidel753 said...

The warhead can be armed after take off and an explosion won't happen even if the rocket explodes.

I know that. The explosion or crash of a rocket carrying a nuclear warhead could physically break it apart and release or disperse radioactive material. Actual detonation of a warhead would produce results much worse than mere "contamination", but that isn't what I was thinking of.

yet the human imagination immediately turns to thoughts of destruction for no reason at all

Not for no reason at all, but because if we left it alone to hit the Earth it could kill millions of people.