Rosetta and 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

I have a 2006 iMac I use as a media server, and it stands up very well. If I try to do anything a bit strenuous on it, like video editing, it is prone to overheat and fall over. I have other bits of computer kit of similar vintage and they are all unreliable, slow and next to unusable.

326 million miles away there is a set of computers, systems, and laboratory tools that are ten years old, spent that ten years hurtling through space at enormous speed, then orbited, then landed on a comet. These systems have raised doubts about the long popular theory that water on earth came from comets, by measuring the composition of the water found there.

So even though it landed oddly and so had only a few hours power in its 10 year old batteries as it wasn’t able to turn its face to the sun, it managed to extract and analyse samples and pass the data back to earth. Data that the receiving crew had sufficient confidence in to publish it.

Now I don’t judge it harshly for the landing, I can barely be bothered to park properly myself when arriving back home after a 40 minute drive back from Hereford.

I think the whole Rosetta exercise has been brilliant and uplifting, and may be more so as the comet’s orbit takes it into a path where the light shines on the panels for a bit. If our species ever stops doing this sort of exploration and enquiry it is the beginning of the end for us.


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