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Stuart Atkinson

Rosetta's Big Day

Posted by Stuart Atkinson

06-08-2014 17:46 CDT

Topics: Rosetta and Philae, personal stories

The following originally appeared on Stuart Atkinson's blog and is reposted here with permission.

A hundred years ago today, Europe was preparing to fling itself into the most brutal war ever known. There were – as far as I know – no bright comets in the sky to blame for the outbreak of World War I, no signs written in the sky as the continent prepared to tear itself apart, as all across Europe countries were condemning other countries, hatred and fury were building, and the future seemed very bleak indeed. Within months men and boys would be dying in their tens of thousands, slogging across muddy battlefields all across the continent. During lulls in those awful battles, when the shells stopped falling, the machine guns fell silent, and the screams of the wounded finally faded away, many of those soldiers on both sides – particularly those who came from small towns and villages in the countryside – must have looked up at the starry sky above the cratered battlefields and wondered what the future would bring. Would Europe be under the heels of dictators? Would there even be a Europe left after the war, or would it be left a desolate wasteland?

I think they would be glad to know that Europe didn’t just survive, it prospered and grew strong and proud. I think those men and boys would be proud to know that in the future they fought for, we didn’t just turn swords into plough-shares, we turned them into amazing machines which, when released from our hands like doves, fly between the planets, beautiful metal butterflies sending back breathtaking pictures of places so alien, so bizarre that the brave men who fought and died in those trenches could not even imagine them.

I think they would be proud to know that today, a hundred years after the horns of war were blaring across Europe, a European machine, designed, built, launched and now operated by men and women from different countries all across Europe, and beyond,has made history. And they would be glad to know, I’m sure, that today our enemies aren’t our neighbours; they are ignorance and fear. Today the prize is not domination over others, but knowledge, gained for the benefit of the whole of mankind.

Today we rendezvous with a comet. Today we start to learn more about the birth of our solar system, our place in the universe, and how to protect our planet. Today is a great day.

Godspeed Rosetta. We’re all behind you. And we know that today - and on many days after - you’ll make all of us proud.

European Military Alliances circa 1914

historicair via Wikipedia

European Military Alliances circa 1914
Countries Contributing to ESA's Rosetta Orbiter

European Space Agency

Countries Contributing to ESA's Rosetta Orbiter
The Rosetta spacecraft was built by a team based in Germany and involved more than 50 contractors from 14 European countries and the USA. Institutes across Europe and the United States provided the 11 experiments for the orbiter. Full Details.
See other posts from August 2014


Or read more blog entries about: Rosetta and Philae, personal stories


Bob Ware: 08/06/2014 08:46 CDT


Henryk Krawczyk: 08/07/2014 06:12 CDT

In reference to Countries Contributing to ESA's Rosetta Orbiter, Polish contribution to the mission includes the design and construction of multi-purpose instrument for measuring physical properties of the nucleus Comet- MUPUS.

Marguerite Barwick: 08/10/2014 09:45 CDT

Thank you for this post. I can imagine the delight my grandfather would feel if he were able to see this miracle of cooperation. A Londoner, he fought in WW1 and lost a son and a house in WW2. This could not have been imaginable.

Marguerite Barwick: 08/10/2014 09:47 CDT

Oh, and many thanks to Henryk for adding the very important information about Poland's contribution to Rosetta

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