Lost space probe finally found on comet

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/09/lost-space-probe-finally-found.html


It is the stuff of science fiction when I was growing up…wild improbable but fun to imagine. Now it’s the real thing. It happens the impossible to imagine is not fiction, it is science in all it’s incredible ability. That’s pretty cool. My grandparents were born before men could fly the world of my grand kids will be beyond imagination or fiction.


Probably? Unless, what, it is some alien or Russian probe that no one knows about?

Although, fun fact, I had a short story were that was basically the case. When looking for asteroids to mine, they stumbled onto an old alien probe, which prompted the owners to come looking for it once it was turned back on.


Uh, no. It’s in the right place, it’s the right design, and, given the realities of space (i.e. it’s really, really empty and easy to spot things with engines, for example), it’s highly unlikely to be a Russian probe, and an alien probe probably wouldn’t use human designs.


In retrospect, the comet was the most probable location to find the probe, and also, that probe was the most probable thing to find on that comet. It’s not like my missing socks were expected to turn up on the comet, or that we’d find the probe inside a 1000 year old redwood.


Half of all scientific experimentation is looking for all the shit you lost earlier in the process.


I read the headline to say Lost in Space Probe Finally Found. that would be amazing.


OH wait, unless there was a title edit, my mind merged “probe finally” into “probably” when I read it. And I was like, “probably”? What else would it be?


Rosetta’s expected crash

I don’t know what the Rosetta team expect, but they’re actually going to attempt a soft-landing.

A crash wouldn’t achieve much, there not being anything in the area to record the results.

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NEAR Shoemaker landed on Eros without any dramas. Eros is a bigger, denser object with much more gravity. Rosetta can just kill their orbital velocity and cut vertical speed back to 10cm/s or so in the last hundred metres.

They should hold back some fuel to reduce vertical speed after the inevitable bounce though.


So that’s where we left that probe!


Oh, the same comet. Would have been more interesting had it been found on some different, unexpected comet.

It’s a bit hard to see in that photo. I found a slightly better one.


This is like the punch line to a joke about that suicidal Nike wearing cult.


Typical humanist attitude.


Yep, you got me. I am totally a humanist.

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Better keep track of that one. We all know what happened with V’ger.


Um, yeah, but interplanetary spacecraft tend to be about as form-follows-function as things get. A high-gain RF antenna will still look like a high-gain RF antenna; a pressure tank will look like a pressure tank; an engine nozzle like an engine nozzle, and so forth. These things are essentially dictated by physics.

(Still, I confess I can usually tell Russian hardware from American hardware (-: Some problems can be solved in several ways, and the customary solutions in these cases are… well, local customs.)


As would interstellar, by the same logic, and an interstellar probe would have a very different form, by necessity. And, continuing down the thread of logic, either it’s a human interplanetary probe and thus the only one that we know could be in the neighborhood, having tracked the others (and space is big. Really big. The road to the chemist is peanuts in comparison. And thus rather hard to get anywhere by accident), or it would be an alien interstellar probe and thus not have the same design considerations as one designed for the piddling few tens of millions of km within a single star system. :wink:

What, you think the Martians and Venusians didn’t explore the comets and asteroids before the Great Interplanetary War?

Where do you think they got the impactors they fought with? You can’t punch holes big enough for shield vocanoes like Olympus Mons and the Tharsis Montes in a crustal plate that thick with mere nukes.