Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Comet Watch

This afternoon a little spacecraft called Rosetta delivered probe Philae onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is an extraordinary scientific endeavour and given the comet is some 300 million miles from earth the precision of the operation is astonishing. Even more astonishing is the fact that all this was accomplished without the presence of Professor Brian Cox telling us how amazing it all is.

However, news has begun to filter through that the two harpoons which were to be fired into the comet on landing in order to secure Philae to its surface haven't deployed. No doubt the boffins are hard at work trying to diagnose the problem and come up with a solution. I have a couple of suggestions.

First of all check that Big Bang Theory's Howard Wolowitz wasn't showing off to an undergraduate somewhere in the space centre. Howard has previous on this score with the Mars Exploration Rover.

Secondly, it may be that Philae detected on landing that 67P isn't really a comet but a Star Whale, hence the reluctance to fire the harpoons. In which case this is a job for Dr Who and let's face it he needs something decent to get his teeth into at the moment.

Anyway, I'm sure the geniuses at the European Space Agency will get things sorted given the brilliant job they've done so far. Now I wait for Nigel Farage to pop up on the BBC to explain how it would all have been so much better and cheaper if we'd done it without the rest of those pesky Europeans.

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