I love thinking about planets and comets and the way life began. I'll include a short excerpt of one of my co-written futuristic novels at the end, showing what happened to Earth in the world of fiction.
In reality, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft is now on its final approach to a comet. See the full BBC news article here.
The boxy structure, measuring about 9 feet by 7 feet by 7 feet, is set to rendezvous in a few hours with one of the strangest objects in the solar system. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Rather than crossing a comet's path to gather data or collect samples of dust, Rosetta is designed to fly around comet 67P in a form of orbit for more than a year while 11 instruments probe for structure and composition.
By November, mission managers will attempt to send a lander, known as Philae, to touch down.
For the moment though, all eyes will be on Wednesday's landmark maneuver which should bring Rosetta into a controlled flight in a triangular pattern around the comet.
Planned back in the 1990s, hundreds of scientists and engineers have been on tenterhooks for this moment. The following excerpt comes from Space Today Online.
The European Space Agency was established in 1973 and is based in Paris. ESA includes 15 countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition Canada and Hungary participate in some projects under cooperation agreements.
The European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, will control Rosetta. Transmissions to the spacecraft will be sent via ESA's 115-ft. ground station antenna at New Narcia, near Perth, Australia, and the 50-ft. antenna at ESA's ground station at Kourou.
Professors at the Open University, which has designed and built an instrument for the lander, are keen to see if the comet's water, locked in the form of ice, bears any relation to water found on Earth, and to understand more about its chemical composition, which might reveal where life on Earth came from.
Comets have been seen and reported since antiquity. The dirty snowballs and icy mudballs consist of water, ice and frozen gases mixed with dust samples from the earliest history of our Solar System, which start to melt close to the Sun, creating a tail.
During an estimated 4.6 billion years, comets have preserved interior materials in a deep freeze. Since comets pelted Earth over the billion years after the Solar System formed, they could have delivered building blocks for life.
I leave you with an excerpt from our novel Golden Submarine, the third book in the futuristic Higher Ground series, co-written with Edith Parzefall.
Cerridwen said, “I hope we’ll meet again.”
Zara slid her small bundle off her shoulder. “In case we don’t, I want you to have something else. It might come in useful.” She rummaged in the little bag and pulled a leather-bound booklet from its smooth clear wrapping. “I hope you can figure out the handwriting.”
The thick, flexible pages crackled as Cerridwen flicked through them. They contained the strange squiggles as the single hand-written page they’d seen in Oxenford’s tool shed. “Oh.”
“It’s not so hard.” Zara leafed back to the first page and read,
“‘March 23, 2027.
As the world ends, I’ve assembled my goat skin vellum and proper ink and pen. Vellum lasts longer than paper. I don’t think anyone will survive the flood and devastation. The water is rising higher all the time and I haven’t seen the sun for forty-eight hours. No light penetrates my room. I’m writing by candlelight. I’m not sure why I’m writing except that it might help me get a grip on what happened. And just maybe someone will survive and read this journal’.”
Cerridwen stared at Zara. “What is this?”
“The journal of my ancestor, Tallulah McBride. They used to have machines on which they wrote things, but none of them worked after the meteor. So she documented the events afterwards on paper in handwriting. I’ve kept it safe since I was young.”
Inhaling a sweet smell from the vellum, Cerridwen sat back to let the significance of the pages in her hand sink in. “Why are you giving this to me?”
“Because you can read it.”
“What if it gets destroyed on our journey?”
“Then so be it. Keep it covered with this lastic.”
Cerridwen couldn’t wait to read the journal. At the same time, an additional burden settled over her. Another account of the before-times to read. If only the squiggly writing wasn’t so hard to work out. But Zara had given her encouragement and confidence. Would she ever understand what the words meant?
Cerridwen rubbed her neck. Maybe the booklet would help her. “Thank you, Zara. I hope I will be able to give it back to you one day.”
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.'