Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bouncy comets

I've been following the exploits of the Rosetta satellite and it's little probe Philae very keenly in the news over the last day or so. The tension last night was wonderfully palpable as scientists were unsure about the fate of Philae as it descended to the surface of the comet and apparently "bounced" when it's harpoon mechanisms and it's thruster rockets both failed to secure it to it's landing site. All of this hi-drama and science was enthralling; for a moment I was transported back to 1970 huddled around a small TV waiting for Apollo 13 to emerge through the clouds (accompanied by most of the other kids in our street).

I'm happy to see that things seemed to have stabilised this morning; the probe does appear to have settled onto the surface of the comet after "bouncing" a few times, and is communicating with it's Mother-craft and scientists back on Earth. The next phase should be equally exciting, the big question everyone is dying to know the answer to of course is, is it made of Camembert or Cheddar? It's amazing what we can achieve when we try.

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