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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.


Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, November 12, 2014/Categories: space science, adventure

What can you say about a science and technology effort that took 10 years to complete; took place hundreds of million of miles away; aimed for a comet less than 3 miles wide moving at a speeds of nearly 35,000 mph; goes into orbit around its target, and then sets a lander on the surface? WOW barely coves it but the European Space Agency has just accomplished with its Rosetta spacecraft  today.

Video of the Rosetta's Philae landing  (credit: ESA)

The Rosetta probe released a refrigerator-sized lander, named Philae for an Egyptian god, that slowly drifted towards the comet before it gently touched down on the surface of 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko. The comet has virtually no gravity so if it had been moving any faster than a walk, it would have bounced off the comet and back into space.

Instruments on Philae will determine the make-up of the icy foreign object and help to understand planetary formation. Like a 4 billion year time-capsule, the chemical composition of the comet will have preserved molecules
from the origins of the solar system. As the lander approached the comet, its camera captured a photograph of the rugged topography.

Approaching Comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko by Philae lander  (credit: ESA)

There willbe many surprises once the lander begins its research. But today, it's WOW for all the talented scientists and engineers who made the stuff of science fiction into science fact.



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