The Idler has been reading up on the latest space mission, recently reported by European scientists who succeeded in soft-landing their Philae craft on the surface of a comet. Since we once drove a 1961 Mercury Comet, we feel we are in a unique position to provide the following in-depth analysis:
It all started ten years ago, March 2, 2004, when an Ariane 5G+ rocket carrying the Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander was launched from French Guiana. Its destination: Comet 67P/Churyumov -Gerasimenko. Yeah we never beard of it either, but these European people must have thought pretty highly of it since they were willing to wait a decade for their probe to reach the comet which is significantly longer than the wait time at the Amity Street crossing when the 4:20 comes through.
The comet is moving at a speed of 85,000 miles per hour, which would be even faster if you applied the metric system and converted it to litres per centimeter. Also the spacecraft had to travel 4 billion miles to get there. That’s billion, with a B, and there’s no telling whether it will have sufficient power once it lands. As someone who once dated a girl from Charleroi I can appreciate the sense of anticipation a long trip like that can arouse when you’re not sure your probe will be functional. What?
As a scientific feat this could be compared to shooting a BB at another much bigger BB and then sitting around while your little BB chases the big BB around for ten years and then doesn’t just hit it, which any BB could probably do if it could go for ten years without hitting something else like a dog or a UFO or your rearview mirror or something. But no, it actually lands on the big BB and kinda sets up housekeeping on it. How cool is that?
So let’s say you’re a scientist and you have the launch and and it blasts off and everything looks OK as it kind of disappears into the cosmos. So you put some post-it notes in your locker down at the lab: “Remember the comet thingy” and maybe “Don’t forget-a Rosetta” but a year later you get transferred to a new lab and the adhesive has worn off the notes. Then five years in you’re cleaning the tub and look at your can of Comet cleanser and think, “Oh yeah, I wonder where the old spaceship is?” and then you remember that it’s still probably 2 billion miles from paydirt.
Finally, the big day arrives and darned if you and your band of nerds don’t pull off a successful landing. Next thing you know someone from the front office is telling you, “Hey you, make yourself presentable, we’re putting you on television.” And you, being a major nerd, start digging through your closet for a clean shirt, and you find a colorful one a female colleague gave you a while back and you put that on and stammer through an interview with the BBC. Mind you, you are a man who does not appear to put a great deal of thought into grooming or even personal hygiene let alone wardrobe.
So naturally the world salutes your astounding feat of engineering and space exploration, right? Not exactly. Instead a great tumult arises over your shirt, which has campy depictions of scantily clad women on it. At about the same time a well known hollywood bimbo who couldn’t do long division with a gun to her head, has a picture published on the cover of a magazine in which she displays her enormous unclad hindquarters to the world without a peep of protest.
It is a strange, strange world we live in. But you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.