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Rosetta – Why do we care?

 

The Rosetta space probe has been in the news this week because the Philae lander has successfully landed on comet 67P.

This has cost 1.4 Billion Euros & the mission has run for over 10 years. Why should we care about this? After all, all that has happened is that a rocket has landed on a rock !!

Just joking!  This is actually an amazing story.

Just think of the engineering required to make sure that a space craft follows an orbit for 10 years so it can intercept a relatively small comet (about 4km in diameter) when the comet is moving at over 135,000 km per hour. Do you realise that to make this interception, the Rosetta probe had to travel over 6.4 billion kilometres? No launcher could inject Rosetta directly into the orbit; therefore, the probe had to make four flybys of planets to ensure that the orbits would match.

That’s fine! So,  that covers the engineering aspect but why go to all this effort?  Are we wasting all this money?

Click on the video below to see how it all works. Just brilliant!

 

You might guess that I’m going to say ‘no’. No, I actually wouldn’t do that. I believe, Rosetta is important to us and this is why:

Comets are the oldest bodies in the solar system and unlike the planets have not been chemically transformed over time. Therefore by studying comets we can find out more about the formation of our solar system. Scientists also believe that comets carry complex organic molecules and may have been involved in the creation of life on earth.

What will Rosetta & Philae find out?

By landing on the comet and physically gathering and analysing actual material from the comet, we will find out more than ever before about the composition of the organic materials that make up the comet.  This will add to our knowledge about the origin of our planet and hopefully about the origin of life on our planet. 

I will keep a close eye on this. This is my first contribution to ‘notjustashopper’, I do hope you enjoy the read.  I do believe that science and politics is of as much of interest to you as style and food are …Rosetta matters to all – whether a shopper or not!

Rajesh