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!