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Sun Nov 16, 2014, 03:21 PM

The Comet Landing -

The comet landing: A new milestone in space exploration
15 November 2014

Millions of people around the world greeted with enthusiasm the news this week that the Philae lander had successfully touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a small and rocky celestial body half a billion kilometers from earth. A new milestone has been reached, with scientists for the first time able to conduct an on-the-spot analysis of a comet.

During its sixty hours of operation, Philae’s nine instruments gathered information about the comet that will assist in answering long-standing questions about the history of the solar system. In particular, scientists hope that the mission will provide insight into the theory that comets are an early source of water and organic compounds on Earth. Though the lander has gone into hibernation from a lack of power, the results it has sent back are already providing insight into the comet’s composition.

There is hope that the small “hop” Philae undertook Friday to change its orientation will let the probe collect enough power quickly to briefly come back online. More likely, it will silently gather power during the days and months ahead, eventually allowing it to continue its studies. The Rosetta orbiter that carried Philae to its destination will remain on station and monitor the comet through at least next year as it approaches the Sun and begins to shed large amounts of itself.

Amidst endless proclamations of the supposed glories of the profit principle, one must emphasize that the Rosetta mission, launched a decade ago, was not motivated by the private gain of one or another giant corporation, but rather the rational integration of the collective labor of thousands of scientists around the world ...

More here: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/15/pers-n15.html

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