One hundred years ago, Europeans were engaged in the most brutal, inhuman struggle in history – one that saw millions of people killed and entire countrysides devastated. Today, Europeans stood together, hand in hand, to witness the momentous occasion of the Philae Lander setting down on the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. Not only was history made in this one act, it put a whole lot of history into perspective.
And my good friends over at Universe Today have been covering this news in a very as-it-happens fashion. So have countless other news sources all over the planet, and for good reason. This is the first time human beings have ever landed a robotic rover on a comet’s surface. Due to the high-speed, transitory nature of these celestial bodies, we’ve been forced to sit back and watch up until now.
In fact, comets have been around for billions of years and date back to a time when the Solar System was still in its early stages of formation. For human beings, the sight of a comet in the night sky was often seen as a bad omen. For example, the presence of Halley’s Comet in the Inner Solar System is still believed by many to be a bringer of doom. During it’s last appearance in 1986, it became the first comet be observed in detail by spacecraft.
But with the Rosetta space mission, we finally have the opportunity to study the surface of a comet in detail, and up close! Who knows what mysteries lie beneath that icy surface. Most likely, there’s a whole lot of dust that is billions of years old and can tell us things about what our Solar System looked like way back when. But you never know…
Nice to know that humanity has made some progress in the past century.