Rosetta – The pointless achievement?

Image source: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/06/27/paypal-boldy-goes-where-no-payment-processor-has-gone-before/michael-long-money-rocket-in-space/
Image source: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2013/06/27/paypal-boldy-goes-where-no-payment-processor-has-gone-before/michael-long-money-rocket-in-space/

I sit here amidst a foray of over excited scientists talking too quickly down a mic on a live stream and this musing comes on the back of having to suffer 2 and a half hours of the awful film Interstellar the other day.  To say I’m not “pro-space” at the moment is an understatement.

At time of writing the Rosetta probe has landed and I expect we will see images and further information soon.

But so what? What benefit will it bring to humanity? – This is where I start to lose interest in the probe after the initial feelings of “it was a hell of a good shot to be able to hit the comet”.

Lets say investigations of the probe conclude that its made entirely of custard.  How will this forward any knowledge? All we will know from then on is that if you have an apple pie ready when a comet slams into the Earth, you’re in for a great dessert.

Of course I jest with the custard example, but it’s merely to highlight that the “wonderful” readings we are bound to receive are really rather useless.  When you consider what it must of cost to get the probe there AND the fact that we haven’t even taken mankind past the Moon, what benefit does this have?

I suppose in many hundreds of years when mankind develops an interest in Comet surfing, the tech will be very useful, people can land on a comet and do whatever you do on a lump of ice travelling at 24 miles per second around our solar system.  I’d suggest for now, the tech is at least, pretty useless.

There can be one lesson drawn from this exercise, Scientists should not be allowed near a mic when making public announcements.  Over-excitement, lack of sleep and lack of public speaking experience make for uncomfortable viewing.

The icing on the cake will come from the conspiracy theorist, for whom this will not be a waste of money.  The Icke supporters and Alien folk will all be able to offer their “unique” theories as to what is being covered up.  You will get folk spending hours looking at the images and then pointing out one that has proof of alien civilisation.  You’ll have others claiming the pictures are fake, or photoshopped.

For others – those who have romantic notions of a Star Trek future (that will never happen) and the conspiracy theorists looking for evidence of aliens, this Rosetta project will offer days of entertainment.  I would expect there are quite a few people that will also think before we start chucking millions of pounds at large lumps of rock and ice, we look to the Earth first and try to solve some of the problems we have here.

Lets be realistic, evidence of mankind’s current behaviour lends more to suggest that our future is more likely to be Warhammer 40,000 than it is Star Trek and maybe that’s because rather than deal with problems that we have on Earth people would rather send millions of pounds up into space to look at rocks and ice.

warhammer-40k-eternal-battle

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hello there ! This is the first time I comment here, I was loving your articles till his one : first of all if you looked no further than the rosetta website you would have known the real cost of the mission and it was praised for not being so expensive, around one billion (the mission lasted 2 decades and this price includes the various costs the ESA had to face), 1 billion is half the price of a modern submarine.

    What does a rosetta achieves that a submarine doesn’t ? A future like Star Trak and not one like warhammer, precisely !! And then, what hurt my eyes is you saying the mission has no scientific value… WHUUUUUT ?? Your mind suddenly seems dark, obscurantist and earth-centered the worst form of narcissism possible ! Is this what you really think ? The point of this mission was to confirm or at the opposite exclude one of many theories that look into that appearence of life on earth. One theory was that organic matter came from comets, by looking into what a comet is made of we can get closer to knowing where we come from… Resolving problems on earth, improving mankind and accomplishing such things are the most beautiful values of science. How could you write the exact opposite of what it is ?

    I’ve actually re-read the articles multiple times, maybe it’s a troll, maybe I’m too naive but, anyways thanks to you now I feel like a good person reacting to your article😀

  2. Admin says:

    Ok. Firstly thanks for taking the time to comment.

    ” first of all if you looked no further than the rosetta website you would have known the real cost of the mission and it was praised for not being so expensive, around one billion”

    Sorry, is that a joke I’m not getting? I don’t care if it cost £100,000, that to me would be a waste and I wish like you I could see a billion as a small sum.

    “1 billion is half the price of a modern submarine.”

    Oh that’s ok then? But this article was on Rosetta not submarines and there are lots of things which large sums of money are wasted on, to include them in the article would make it rather large.

    “What does a rosetta achieves that a submarine doesn’t ? A future like Star Trak and not one like warhammer”

    I don’t think you understood what was meant here. The meaning was that humans spent billions fighting each other and soppy trips into space with expensive toys won’t change mankind from that. Maybe we should look at solving our problems here on Earth first before venturing out for new ones in space? Just a thought.

    “The point of this mission was to confirm or at the opposite exclude one of many theories that look into that appearence of life on earth.”

    No. This is false. Lets say evidence was found that life could have been seeded from comets. Would that stop the millions of people with faith believing God created the Earth? No. It doesn’t solve anything. Scientists with no faith already believe in a “natural process” of life on Earth. And in anycase just because comets COULD carry life to planets, doesn’t mean they did with this planet. Can the mission prove which comet came to Earth and seeded it with life? No. Of course not. So you are no further forward no matter what you believe.

    ” Resolving problems on earth, improving mankind and accomplishing such things are the most beautiful values of science. ”

    And sending a probe to a comet improves life and solves problems on Earth how exactly?

    “I’ve actually re-read the articles multiple times, maybe it’s a troll, ”

    No its not a troll its my opinion, which you have made no inroads in disputing and maybe a “troll” claim would be your best recourse from here on in.

    “But so what? What benefit will it bring to humanity?” – That is the question I asked and I’ve explained that no matter what the outcome had been it would bring no benefit. It’s really quite simple. To “prove” how Earth was seeded with life, you’d need a time machine and a better probe because as it stands even if the comet was found to have life generating properties, you still can’t prove that is how Earth was seeded with life.

    Ask yourself this, if comets are going around the universe seeding life on planets (and its a fair idea) what made the first comet which had the life giving properties? – that was what I was subtly suggesting. I assume you missed it.

    And since you want to try it on with “troll” remarks, I better pre-empt another cheap attack and say now that I have no faith at all (just incase you were going to try it on with a “you believe in God so you don’t believe in comets giving life” type tactic). Whilst I respect and fully support anyone who wishes to have a faith, I do not have a faith. I will not use the “A” word to describe myself because it brings up images of some of the aggressive supporters of people like Richard Dawkins.

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