Thursday, January 3, 2019

A week to restore one's faith in humanity

Clearly, I refer to nothing in the political sphere. But think of the milestones (kilometer stones?) science and technology reached this week. From closest to farthest, we've got:

"China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft makes historic landing on far side of the Moon."

The lunar far side
The Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4 has landed on the far side of the Moon and has begun relaying data and images back to Earth. It is the first mission to operate on the far side, which is the  hemisphere of the Moon that always faces away from Earth. This half of the Moon has a much more rugged and varied landscape than the hemisphere that is visible from Earth and studying its geology could provide important information about how the Moon and the rest of the solar system formed.

Also, NASA's "OSIRIS-REx probe goes into close orbit around asteroid Bennu and sets a record."

Artist rendering
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft today maneuvered into an orbit that takes it within 4,000 feet of the surface of Bennu, a diamond-shaped asteroid that’s 70 million miles from Earth.

The orbit sets a record for interplanetary travel. The quarter-mile-wide asteroid is now the smallest body ever orbited by a spacecraft, and the spacecraft is tracing the closest sustained orbit around a celestial body.
And (IMO, the most awesome of all) in the distant Kuiper Belt, Nasa's New Horizons: 'Snowman' shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed."

4 billion miles away
"[Ultima's] only really the size of something like Washington DC, and it's about as reflective as garden variety dirt, and it's illuminated by a Sun that's 1,900 times fainter than it is outside on a sunny day here on the Earth. We were basically chasing it down in the dark at 32,000mph (51,000km/h) and all that had to happen just right," the SwRI scientist said.

We Homo saps actual can accomplish great things when we cooperate and focus.

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