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Sci-Tech: 10 Year Voyage to Comet Successful

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    The European Space Agency landed the Philae probe on a comet yesterday. The Rosetta mission has been in transit for the last 10 years, and yesterday’s successful touchdown marks the first time humanity has landed on a comet in any capacity.

    Philae Lander First Photo
    This is the first image taken from the surface

    Other items trending in the news yesterday: Kim Kardashian and Chelsea Handler were attempting to #BreakTheInternet with a little “ass”tronomy of their own. I made a scientific inquiry into that topic (for science, you understand) and will save you the trouble of further research: while the photos do contain a number of “moons” and a “tail” or two, they are NOT pictures of comets.


    I typically skip over the Hobbit-news, but this space rock thing looks pretty cool.


    Why are these things successful but missions to Mars are so hazardous?


    Robots are a lot easier to keep alive than people. We don’t have to worry about them getting cancer or starving to death. And this wasn’t exactly a short term project. It took about 10 years from deciding to start the project to get it launched and it took another 10 years to reach its goal. Even though it has made it some of its systems have failed. In a worse case scenario we lost a bunch of time and money and the project failed. With Mars everyone dies. Keeping people alive in space that long isn’t easy and everything needs to work with redundancy. There are also a bunch of risks and unknowns. We have found out that some of the things we design on earth end up breaking down in space. When they designed a toilet they discovered it broke down in space. Calcium is lost when in zero g and the extra calcium in the stool ended up mucking up the system. Unless a Mars mission includes some way of returning, which is a huge challenge by itself, it is also a one way trip. Its not just sending some people to Mars its a commitment to keeping them supplied pretty much forever assuming something we didn’t prepare enough for doesn’t go wrong and kill them. Space is dangerous and very very hard. We could totally do it. If we had the budget and the will I have no doubt Mars could be doable. Space doesn’t have the backing it used to. Something like the Rosetta mission is important but relatively cheap compared to Mars or a Moon Base. Talk to your political representative if you want more cool space stuff. That is the best way to get more attention and hopefully money turned toward space.

    Steam: Garayur


    I think Armadon’s point is that 63% of missions sent to Mars have failed. Beyond any hypothetical future human missions, we don’t have a great track record getting to Mars as it is. If you are interested in (relatively) cheap ways to get to Mars and back, check out The Case For Mars by Robert Zubrin. It is very reasonable for the scientific lay-person to pick up, but all the math is there for those who want to see it.


    Turns out this comet landing was not quite as successful as planned: it didn’t land right, and is now stuck in a hole unable to get enough sunlight to charge the secondary batteries. Unless something can be done to shift its position, the main battery will run out sometime saturday, effectively ending the mission months sooner than intended.

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