My students have been studying the Rosette Mission since the start of the school year and the landing on the surface couldn't have come at a better time. In August, they didn't really get it, but they researched, learned more, printed out pictures and followed the European Space Agency's Twitter feed. I don't think they quite realize how special it is that a comet came this close and we actually landed on it. But I could tell they were interested when it got close to time to land on the comet...actually land on the comet.
We're studying chemistry and believe it or not, the mission ties beautifully into how all the elements were created and how we know what we know. 92 elements naturally appear on the Earth and it is through meteorites that crash into the earth's surface that learn about elements that don't appear here.
Right now we're reading about how the Big Bang not only helped create the elements, but the dramatic and amazing story of how hydrogen is converted into helium. And then how the other elements are created from the unimaginable heat and pressure of supernova and even our own Sun.
Along comes the Rosette Mission and now we land on the surface and hopefully will get to do a bit of digging and mining to see what Philae finds. My classes are waiting and waiting to see if any data will be retrieved. I will say, though, that everyone was disappointed when we realized that Philae wouldn't be able to continue and started shutting down....but the Rosette blog gave us hope that as it nears the sun, there might be a chance that it will get enough solar power to come out of hibernation.
It reminds me of listening to Chris Hadfield speak....he's an astronaut that has been aboard the International Space Station several times and was here in KC last week. He talked about what you learn even when things don't work out perfectly and how to marvel at the miracle of the attempt.
Picture credit. From ESA Photo Gallery.