Space!

Spite week continues! Ranai reminded me how fucking cool Astronomy Picture of the Day is, so let’s talk about that. In one of my old apartments, I used to have a rasterized version of the first colour image of Mars’ surface over my couch. We sent a fucking robot to another planet and it sent back pictures! Of another planet! There is nothing not awesome about that! We’ve also seen pictures of Titan’s (one of Saturn’s moons) surface, as well as Venus‘ surface and Mercury’s.

Okay, so I’m easily excited. There’s still nothing not cool about seeing pictures of the surface of other planets. We might even send human beings to Mars in my lifetime. Tell me what’s not amazing about that. We even put a lander on a comet! Do you know how carefully the European Space Agency must have had to calculate the path the Rosetta craft and Philae lander had to take?! FYI, comets rotate really fucking quickly. And the lander was a long, long way from Earth when it landed. At it’s worst the communication lag was 50 minutes. To a certain extent the lander could be controlled from the ground, but 50 minutes is an enormous chunk of the approximately seven hours it took Philae to land on 67p/C-G.

As a programmer myself, I can assure you that is a triumph of both programming and planning ahead. If something had gone horribly wrong with the landing on the comet, by the time that signal got to Earth and new instructions got back to the lander it could easily have been far too late to fix anything. Considering how many things could have gone horribly wrong at so many stages of the mission, it is seriously fucking amazing that we put a lander on a fucking comet!

5 thoughts on “Space!

  1. The precision of the Rosetta / Philae mission was fascinating, considering rotation and what a tiny iceball it is.

    Somewhat doubtful about these Mars travel plans yet. Seems a bit early in the development of our knowledge of human physiology in space to push it, when considering the astronauts’ long term health and well-being. I think we should wait a while yet. The days when astronauts were considered expendable cannon fodder soldiers sacrificed in a subset of the cold war conflict are hopefully over. In general, I’m in favour of sending robots with cameras and sensors wherever we want to look.

    When Astronomy Picture of the Day isn’t enough, it’s also fun to explore news releases from the European Southern Observatory and Hubble for example, such as last summer’s view of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

    Haha, I saw the Jupiter Ascending trailer and the hint did catch my eye. Checked, saw the critics aren’t showering it with roses. I’d be game watching a silly disjointed space opera if the Caine character manages to play sort of attractively?

    • That’s a good point, we shouldn’t treat people like they’re expendable without a really good reason. And it’s not like Mars is going anywhere, we can wait until we know more and can build better tech. I’m all for sending robots, there’s nothing not cool about robots. And as vr technology gets better it’ll almost be like being there but without putting anyone in danger.

      Thanks for the links, those are really cool!

  2. I had no idea how badass Philae and Rosetta were. I knew they were awesome but you’ve really put their achievements into context for a layperson here. Outer space is incredible. I just finished watching a documentary on the Russian cosmonauts in the 60s and 70s – talk about intrepid! :0

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