Philae lander

Best space story of 2014 | Day 131

I’m quite sure you know where I’m going with this category. Particularly if you have been reading my blog for the past few months, and know that I actually wrote about a certain space story several times.

It was a first for humankind, it was a multi-national project, and it yielded some fascinating data.

Best space story of 2014

Of course, I’m talking about the first touchdown of a man-made object on a comet. More specifically, it was the little lander named Philae that had been travelling aboard the Rosetta space probe for the past decade.

This probe had been chasing a comet on its way toward our Sun, using the Earth and Mars as gravitational slingshots in order to align with its orbit. Finally, in November it caught up with the comet, and Philae was deployed. The landing was bumpy, and its batteries ran out after 57 hours, but during that time researchers gathered a rich collection of precious data and images from a space body that mankind has never touched before.

Science magazine has declared this achievement – the European Space Agency’s comet rendezvous – as the Breakthrough of the Year. It’s a prestigious annual award for the most significant development in scientific research. The data from this mission is already informing scientific debate about the origins of water on our own planet, and in the years to come, as Rosetta continues to follow the icy lump of a comet on its path towards the centre of our Solar System, “it will become the first spacecraft to examine from close proximity how a frozen comet is transformed by the warmth of the Sun.”

Why bother going into space at all? Read this story from day 93!

P.S. Merry Christmas!

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