• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Tag, you're it, comet

Man, this is just flat-out amazing:

Mankind has just cleared another hurdle in space exploration: landing the first spacecraft on a comet.

The European Space Agency's Philae lander, which detached from the Rosetta spacecraft around 1 a.m. PT Wednesday morning, successfully touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko seven hours later. A confirmation signal was sent to the mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, indicating that Philae is now officially along for the ride.

"How audacious, how exciting, how unbelievable to be able to dare to land on a comet?" Jim Green, NASA's Planetary Science Division director, said triumphantly at a ESA press conference Wednesday. "It is the start of something important. The Solar System is mankind's. This mission is the first step to take it."

Well, because we could, that's why. It's why we do everything.

"Audacious" doesn't begin to cover it. Breathtaking, awe-inspiring and awesome get a little closer. They put a lander on a tiny comet going 150,000 kilometers an hour! At one point in the story, it is noted that the mission was "fraught with potential failure at every step" since the missle carrying the lander was launched in 2004. I guess. The whole solar system is open to us, and this is just one step in getting there. Think the human race still has a spark left in it.

Here's a nifty little explainer answering the Frequently Asked Questions about Rosetta.