After 25 years of planning and working on Rosetta, the European Space Agency has managed to land a probe, Philae, on the surface of a comet – a feat never before achieved. The Rosetta mission is intended to take measurements on the composition of the comet to reveal its make-up and to provide new data, which could help us uncover new information in how solar systems like ours are formed and whether comets have a role in the origin of life on Earth.
Reading the news stories of the difficulty of landing the probe on the surface – and that there may yet be some danger from the probe’s “bounce” that it might not be fully secure on the comet – it’s hard not to be inspired. Touchdown was made at 17:03 CET on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after a 2 dayoperation.
The European Space Agency is a great example of European co-operation (it’s not an EU agency, though it receives financial support from the EU), but space exploration can’t be considered just a national, or even continental level, endeavour. Even on the Rosetta project, international help is given from other space agencies, such as when NASA helped track Rosetta from its Canberra station.
Hopefully this will inspire future scientists and scientific endeavours.