On November 12, 2014, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe will attempt to put it’s lander, called “Philae” onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While mankind has put exploring craft on Mars and the moon, and sent craft to several other planets, it has never before landed on a comet.
Here’s a picture of the comet 67P, which the Rosetta probe has been orbiting for a few months now. A “zoomed-in” picture of the landing site is on the right.
It is thought that comets have delivered a significant amount of water and organic molecules to the earth over billions of years, and it is hoped that this mission will greatly further our knowledge of the composition and origin of comets.
Here’s a short 3 minute video from the European Space Agency that describes the mission and shows a simulation of the upcoming landing:
Here’s a stunning view of NASA’s Juno spacecraft heading toward earth, on its way to be “sling shot” toward Jupiter. The video, which shows the moon orbiting the earth in dramatic fashion, was composed of pictures sent back to earth by the spacecraft in October, and starts when the Juno was 966,000 kilometers from earth. Click here or here for more details.
“If Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise said, ‘Take us home, Scotty,’ this is what the crew would see,” Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator
Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Ps.148:1b-3
Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe? The topic was in the news this week when astronomers at UC Berkeley and University of Hawaii released this report. These scientists say that about 20% of sun-like stars have earth-sized planets in their habitable zones, the zone where liquid water can exist on the surface of the planet. Since sun-like stars comprise about 20% of the 200 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, some 8 billion earth-sized planets in habitable zones may exist in our galaxy alone! Actually quite more than that, since six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. and red dwarf stars are the most common stars in our galaxy. So we’re talking potentially tens of billions of habitable earth-sized planets in our galaxy!
How many extra-solar civilizations could there be in our galaxy? The Drake Equation gives us a good plan for finding out, even if it doesn’t actually answer the question:
N = is the number of detectable civilizations in our galaxy.
This TED video that explains the rest of the equation and its implications:
The number of such intelligent, communicative civilizations out there might be on the order of magnitude of the length of time the average such civilization exists. That might not bode well for the possibility of eventually communicating with these civilizations…