History was made yesterday
Yesterday the ingenuity of mankind proved we are capable of seemingly impossible things.
While it won’t directly affect day-to-day life on Earth, the landing of the Philae probe on a comet will provide us with a better understanding of these mysterious celestial bodies.
It’s speculated that comets are made up of ice, and many other materials such as rock. That’s where Philae will come in. Now that it has landed safely, for the most part, it will attempt to anchor itself onto the surface and hitch a ride as the comet passes by the sun while determining what it is made of.
The success of this decade-long mission has put the European Space Agency on a track no other agency has traveled.
But getting the probe on the surface was a feat in itself.
It’s not an easy task to land something the size of a washing machine on the surface of a comet. To top it off the comet travels at more than 80,000 miles per hour.
Additionally, due to the distance of the probe from the Earth, which creates a 28 minute delay when sending commands, all scientists could do is send the command to land, and hope everything went as planned.
What the scientists hope to learn from the comet is how the solar system was formed.
There was a small problem with the landing, however. The harpoons designed to keep the probe on the comet did not operate as planned.
But now that it’s there, provided it doesn’t fall off due to the broken harpoons, it will undertake a year-long piggyback ride around the sun.
The biggest excitement comes from the fact that this comet contains all of the elements created with the solar system, unchanged or affected by humans.
While not as well known as the moon landing, this milestone could provide an abundance of knowledge about our solar system, and how it was formed.