In any case, we’ll know more over the next day or two about how Philae fared, and whether it can do very much science after its rough landing. It’s still an accomplishment worth celebrating, so here’s my take on the whole thing for The Daily Beast:
Up to today, humanity has landed robotic spacecraft on six other worlds: the Moon, Mars, Venus, Saturn’s moon Titan, and the asteroids Eros and Itokawa. Now we’ve added a seventh, as the Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov—Gerasimenko, the first time we’ve ever landed a spacecraft on a comet.
Philae (pronounced “fee-LAY”) is part of the larger European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta comet mission, which was launched 10 years ago and arrived at Comet 67P in August. In other words, today’s landing is the culmination of more than a decade of research, planning, and—most stressful for those involved—waiting. [Read more…]
As a final note, though I don’t want to talk about That Shirt anymore, Alice Bell wrote a really excellent analysis of the larger reasons Matt Taylor’s shirt and comments send exactly the wrong message about what science is about — and why it’s not just a shirt.