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Humans Land A Spacecraft On A Comet – Yes, Really!

by Bill

Comet LandingThe NationalNet Blog is intended to keep all of our readers informed and up to date on all businesses and technology matters that affect the Internet and your web hosting or managed hosting decisions. However, there are some stories that transcend Hosting as a topic and this is definitely one of them. At approximately 1:03AM PST the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully landed the Philae spacecraft on the surface of a comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Many important technology breakthroughs have come from the desire for space travel, including everything from WiFi and GPS satellites to Velcro and Teflon materials. While the specific knowledge that will be applicable from this mission is not fully known yet, the awesome magnitude of the calculational complexity necessary to deploy the Philae craft from the Rosetta craft that carried it to its destination and successfully land it on a piece of rock as old as our solar system says a lot about the nature of human intellect and the passion for pushing technology to new points of mastery across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

The actual descent took more than 7 hours of painstaking calculation and recalculation as the craft positioned itself before it touched down on the surface. “This is a big step for civilization” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Director General of the ESA. To give you a sense of how complex a step this is, Philae landed 28 minutes earlier than the reported time here on Earth because it takes that long for the signals to travel 300 Million Miles from the comet to our planet. Now the lander’s instruments will begin work, taking pictures and analyzing the chemical composition of the comet by drilling for samples and studying the comet’s magnetic field.

Challenges remain as the harpoons intended to anchor the craft to the comet did not fire properly and are being recalibrated in the hope of preventing the craft from falling off its perch. However, now that the ESA has proven the landing itself can be done, the sky is no longer the limit and the vast wealth of information available from our Universe may finally be ready for more detailed analysis by humans and our best inventions.

At a time when so much media news is dedicated to wars and strife here on Earth, it’s vital that organizations like NASA and ESA continue their important work lifting all of our eyes and our expectations toward the stars.

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