Friday, November 14, 2014

This Week's Sci-Light!

Some radio data suggests the probe 
may be about 1km from the intended landing site
The European Space Agency (Esa) launched the Rosetta satellite in 2004 hoping to learn more about the origins of our Solar System by landing a probe on a comet.  Ten years, 4 billion miles later their probe, Philae, landed on the icy comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

I was on my way to work when the signal from the probe finally reached the scientists at the agency and saw their faces beam as the relief and ecstasy of success flooded their bodies.  A well earned moment in all of their struggles. 

Now according to the BBC News in an article entitled Battery will limit life of Philae comet lander the agency is concerned about the small number of hours that the probe will receive light from the sun--a mere 1.5 hours out of every 12 hours of the comet's rotation.  Because the batteries will not top off their charge, the primary charge on them will diminish.  A new article, Comet lander:  Future of Philae probe 'uncertain', reports that the probe has drilled into the comet's surface and that scientists fear that the signal may not reach earth due to the batteries shortened life.

Body fluids and poor sanitation in and around homes in Monrovia 
make caring for relatives with Ebola perilous for families.  
Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times
For some, the questions of life's origin or problems concerning a remote probe named Philae are so far removed from life's struggles that they may seem irrelevant.  I read a story today in the New York Times by Norimitsu Onishi, "For a Liberian Family, Ebola Turns Loving Care Into Deadly Risk"  about a family in Liberia destroyed by Ebola, the virus affecting West Africa.  People died in this story which was tragic, but it was the way it happened that was heart breaking.  Without facilities, training, information, medical care, supplies or help, families, the foundational institution of all of humanity, bear the horror. 

Life presents many challenges and circumstances.  Science plays a role in sparking our imaginations and in helping those we love.  As you live and learn, think on this--there is one planet we all call home.  It's the place that Philae sends the signal to help us understand what lies beyond.  

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