In light of recent news about the Rosetta mission, LIYSF are delighted to have had Professor Mark McCaughrean, the senior science advisor for the European Space Agency speak at the forum on Wednesday 29th July 2015.
|Professor Mark McCaughrean speaking at LIYSF 2015|
Have you ever wondered about the origins of the human race? Of course you have! We’ve all wondered about where we come from, yet at this year’s LIYSF, participants came one step closer to understanding both their origins as human beings, and the origins of the entire universe.
LIYSF was truly excited to hear from Professor Mark McCaughrean, the Senior Science Advisor for the European Space Agency (ESA). Professor McCaughrean is responsible for dozens of missions in space, including the infamous Rosetta mission!
“We are all made of stars and comets. We are one small piece of the Universe, just trying to understand the rest of it.”
Perhaps you have heard about the legendary Hailey’s comet? Hailey’s comet flew past Earth in 1986, and in anticipation of this historic event, the ESA successfully shot a satellite into the sky to capture photographs of the comet.
|Halley’s Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 75–76 years. (Wikipedia)|
The scientific challenges involved in attempting to land a probe on an irregularly shaped, rotating object were certainly overwhelming. Imagine you’re trying to throw a dart at a dartboard. You have to hit the centre of the target. Oh and of course, the target is moving. And in conjunction with all of these problems, you’ve never actually thrown a dart before. This was the challenge that Rosetta’s research team was faced with when they planned an attempt to land a probe on Comet 67/P.
However despite every difficulty the Rosetta’s research team faced throughout their 10 year mission, on the 12th of November 2014, the team successfully landed their probe on Comet 67P.
Isn’t that incredible? Philae successfully collected and analysed materials from the surface of the comet, providing ESA with crucial information about our origins.
Speaking of discoveries, perhaps you are curious about exactly what information Philae sent back to Earth. If so, well you’re in luck! On the 30th of July 2015, the research team at ESA will release the scientific articles containing all new information about the composition about Comet 67/P! See their most recent article on How a Comet Reacts to the Wind.
As Professor McCaughrean stated, “Ex Astris – As Astris” which translates to, “From the stars – To the stars.”
Special thanks to Professor Mark McCaughrean for visiting LIYSF to present a truly exhilarating and inspiring lecture.
By Charlotte Brew
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