November 12, 2014

"We’re there and Philae is talking to us. We are on the comet."

Touchdown on Comet 67/P, 317 million miles away.

52 comments:

Original Mike said...

Good work!

rhhardin said...

So they used metric or British units consistently.

Anonymous said...

Incredible!

Original Mike said...

Foot-pound? Watts a foot-pound?

Robert Cook said...

Wow!!

RecChief said...

who is the comedy writer who programmed Philae's responses?

Rusty said...

Bueatiful piece of engineering.

AReasonableMan said...

Amazing achievement. I have become skeptical of the value of any manned space flights, robotic flights appear to provide a vastly greater risk-reward ratio.

George Grady said...

xkcd, as usual, is on top of this.

Anonymous said...

AReasonableMan said...
Amazing achievement. I have become skeptical of the value of any manned space flights, robotic flights appear to provide a vastly greater risk-reward ratio.

11/12/14, 11:15 AM
----------------------------

I too am a skeptic of manned flights to comets.

Original Mike said...

Isn't Obama sending us to a comet?

garage mahal said...

This is better than the ancient mating habits of whatever, most definitely.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Zowie! Astonishing.

Original Mike said...

Not a comet, an asteroid

Michael K said...

" robotic flights appear to provide a vastly greater risk-reward ratio."

They always have been but NASA wanted to sell the Space Program to taxpayers. Now that NASA has the mission to outreach to Muslims, it doesn't matter anymore.

Chuck Yeager was asked to be an astronaut and replied they were "spam in a can." A classmate of mine in medical school had been a fighter pilot and got a similar invitation. He wasn't interested.

traditionalguy said...

A one way trip to a useless space rock is not all that big a deal.

Alex said...

I don't know why the left seems to own space flight. I guess Christians prefer the flat earth theory.

Alex said...

A one way trip to a useless space rock is not all that big a deal

It's a triumph of mathematics. You have to be able to properly predict the motion of 2 very fast objects and intersect them while not wrecking the spacecraft.

garage mahal said...

A one way trip to a useless space rock is not all that big a deal.

Maybe it's all faked to get the coveted grant money for Comet Scientists. After all, anything is possible, and there are no right or wrong answers.

rhhardin said...

Mars Rover, click to enlarge. Notice the small stones.

PB Reader said...

a nice accomplishment, but I wouldn't call it "landing". More like grappling.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Alex said...
I don't know why the left seems to own space flight. I guess Christians prefer the flat earth theory.

The Left doesn't. Your guess is wrong.

garage mahal said...
This is better than the ancient mating habits of whatever, most definitely.

There has to be a term for when sarcasm tips over into the truth.

traditionalguy said...
A one way trip to a useless space rock is not all that big a deal.

It's a big deal that they (we!) were able to do it at all, and anything we find out will be, you know, more than we knew before. That's not nothin'.

Michael K said...

"I don't know why the left seems to own space flight. I guess Christians prefer the flat earth theory."

And Obama wants NASA to " reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."

Just like the Romans' role in early science was killing Archimedes. The "Arabic numbers" came from India. Paper came from China. Math was from the Greeks, and before them the Babylonians and Egyptians.

Yeah, the Arabs and Muslims were sure great discoverers.

"Flat earth" is a myth but I guess you don't know much history, like the song.

furious_a said...

I guess Christians prefer the flat earth theory.

That's why Buzz Aldrin took Communion on the Moon.

David said...

Very cool.

David said...

rhhardin said...
. . . . Notice the small stones.


Look here Hardin. Not everything is about Obama.

furious_a said...

We are on the comet.

Glorious, and well done.

David said...

Uh oh. Harpoon defect. Where is Ahab when you need him?

David said...

Foot-pound? Watts a foot-pound?

The amount of energy required to raise one pound a distance of one foot on earth. Not a constant number everywhere but variable depending on gravity.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

How come nearly every pic I see about this actually has the lander in the shot? Are there two landers?

Seriously though, there are so many "artists renderings" and mock-ups out there it's difficult to tell what's real and what isn't. Kind of takes away a bit from the excitement.

Eagerly awaiting some awesome pics...

Original Mike said...

"Watts" wasn't enough for you, David? I needed a sarcasm tag too?

madAsHell said...

I'm guessing they didn't find a UFO flying behind the comet.

John Lynch said...

Any aliens we discover are going to encounter robots. Maybe they'll mistake them for us. Maybe they will be us.

Chef Mojo said...

A wonderful achievement. Now that we know how to land on them, let's figure out a way to deflect them, if the need arises. There's an awful lot of dangerous crap zooming around in the "emptiness" of space.

Krumhorn said...

oot-pound? Watts a foot-pound?

The amount of energy required to raise one pound a distance of one foot on earth. Not a constant number everywhere but variable depending on gravity.


Hahaha....talk about entirely missing the joke...

It was an amazing achievement, and it was made even more amazing by the fact that the Europeans did it, not the Americans.

- Krumhorn

traditionalguy said...

OMG, if those Europeans wannabees did it first, that makes it into a space race for National pride.

I declare a Comet Landing Gap. Crank up Cape Kennedy and the Space Coast. Which makes a little more sense than Bullet Trains to nowhere...but not much.

But it is reassuring to hear that the mathematics of the Newtonian physics behind space travel is still a real science somewhere.

EDH said...

Watts a matta you?

Rusty said...

They use newton/meters.
And this achievement literally is like hitting a bullet with another bullet. Consider that the lag time is about an hour so the probe was on the asteroid an hour before the information was transmitted back to earth.
The programmers deserve a lot of credit.

Rusty said...
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Rusty said...
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Froth said...

Dropping a washing machine onto a 2.5 mile wide blob travelling faster than the speed limit is an amazing piece of work. Also, the pics of the blob look like the beginnings of a clay sculpture, pre-potter's wheel, which lends all sortsa Biblical tinges to it visually/metaphorically.

David said...

Original Mike said...
"Watts" wasn't enough for you, David? I needed a sarcasm tag too?


Totally missed it Mike. I would not be the guy to calculate the landing vectors it seems.

Original Mike said...

No problem, Dave. At the risk of offending, which I don't mean to do, rhhardin was referring to the Mars Climate Orbiter. Not exactly our space program's finest hour.

Original Mike said...

Dave = David
Sorry.

John Lynch said...

I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I misspelled that.

themightypuck said...

It is a sad fact that an entire 50% of Americans are dumber than average.

richard mcenroe said...

Absolutely awesome feat, even if it was more of a docking than a landing.

Michael McNeil said...

Physicist Freeman Dyson:

Big Trees

I have spoken about the two first steps of biological engineering. The first will transform our industry and the second will transform our earth-bound ecology. It is now time to speak of the third step, which is the colonization of space. I believe in fact that biological engineering is the essential tool which will make Bernal's dream of the expansion of mankind in space a practical possibility.

First I have to clear away a few popular misconceptions about space as a habitat. It is generally considered that planets are important. Except for Earth, they are not. Mars is waterless, and the others are for various reasons basically inhospitable to man. It is generally considered that beyond the sun's family of planets there is absolute emptiness extending for light years until you come to another star. In fact it is likely that space around the solar system is populated by huge numbers of comets, small worlds a few miles in diameter, rich in water and the other chemicals essential to life. We see one of these comets only when it happens to suffer a random perturbation of its orbit which sends it plunging close to the sun. It seems that roughly one comet per year is captured into the region near the sun, where it eventually evaporates and disintegrates. If we assume that the supply of distant comets is sufficient to sustain this process over the thousands of millions of years that the solar system has existed, then the total population of comets loosely attached to the sun must be numbered in the thousands of millions. The combined surface area of these comets is then a thousand or ten thousand times that of Earth. I conclude from these facts that comets, not planets, are the major potential habitat of life in space. If it were true that other stars have as many comets as the sun, it then would follow that comets pervade our entire Galaxy. We have no evidence either supporting or contradicting this hypothesis. If true, it implies that our Galaxy is a much friendlier place for interstellar travelers than it is popularly supposed to be. The average distance between habitable oases in the desert of space is not measured in light years, but is of the order of a light day or less.

I propose to you then an optimistic view of the Galaxy an an abode of life. Countless millions of comets are out there, amply supplied with water, carbon, and nitrogen, the basic constituents of living cells. We see when they fall close to the sun that they contain all the common elements necessary to our existence. They lack only two essential requirements for human settlement, namely warmth and air. And now biological engineering will come to our rescue. We shall learn how to grow trees on comets.

Michael McNeil said...

Big Trees (continued)

To make a tree grow in airless space by the light of a distant sun is basically a problem of redesigning the skin of its leaves. In every organism the skin is the crucial part which must be most delicately tailored to the demands of the environment. The skin of a leaf in space must satisfy four requirements. It must be opaque to far-ultraviolet radiation to protect the vital tissues from radiation damage. It must be impervious to water. It must transmit visible light to the organs of photosynthesis. It must have extremely low emissivity for far-infrared radiation, so that it can limit loss of heat and keep itself from freezing. A tree whose leaves possess such a skin should be able to take root and flourish upon any comet as near to the sun as the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. Farther out than Saturn the sunlight is too feeble to keep a simple leaf warm, but trees can grow at far greater distances if they provide themselves with compound leaves. A compound leaf would consist of a photosynthetic part which is able to keep itself warm, together with a concave mirror part which itself remains cold but focuses concentrated sunlight upon the photosynthetic part. It should be possible to program the genetic instructions of a tree to produce such leaves and orient them correctly toward the sun. Many existing plants possess structures more complicated than this.

Once leaves can be made to function in space, the remaining parts of a tree — trunk, branches, and roots — do not present any great problems. The branches must not freeze, and therefore the bark must be a superior heat insulator. The roots will penetrate and gradually melt the frozen interior of the comet, and the tree will build its substance from the materials that the roots find there. The oxygen which the leaves manufacture must not be exhaled into space; instead it will be transported down to the roots and released into the regions where men will live and take their ease among the tree trunks. One question still remains. How high can a tree on a comet grow? The answer is surprising. On any celestial body whose diameter is of the order of ten miles or less, the force of gravity is so weak that a tree can grow infinitely high. Ordinary wood is strong enough to lift its own weight to an arbitrary distance from the center of gravity. This means that from a comet of ten-mile diameter, trees can grow out for hundreds of miles, collecting the energy of sunlight from an area thousands of times as large as the area of the comet itself. Seen from far away, the comet will look like a small potato sprouting an immense growth of stems and foliage. When man comes to live on the comets, he will find himself returning to the arboreal existence of his ancestors.

We shall bring to the comets not only trees but a great variety of other flora and fauna to create for ourselves an environment as beautiful as ever existed on Earth. Perhaps we shall teach our plants to make seeds which will sail out across the ocean of space to propagate life upon comets still unvisited by man. Perhaps we shall start a wave of life which will spread from comet to comet without end until we have achieved the greening of the Galaxy. That may be an end or a beginning, as Bernal said, but from here it is out of sight.

Michael McNeil said...

The World, The Flesh, and the Devil
by Freeman J. Dyson

Freeman J. Dyson
Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton, New Jersey

IV. Big Trees

Michael McNeil said...
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Original Mike said...

Michael - I don't understand where people will live. Will there be an atmosphere down on the comet surface?