The Rosetta Mission? OK. So I Am A Crank

I want to be excited about the Rosetta Mission and the Lander Philae connecting with a comet moving at 40,000 miles per hour, but I’m not.

 I torment myself: I am not a good citizen, not adventurous enough; I have no worldview. I don’t care about the RIGHT THINGS. Conceivably I am just an old crank. All of the above may be true.

I understand why the international scientists of the ESA—European Space Agency--who have been working on this project since November of 1993, were jubilant over yesterday’s landing, some of them in tears. It has been a lot of work.

The Rosetta Mission was created to help us to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system. The ESA, according to online sources, is “convinced that comets played a key role in the evolution of the planets,” bringing much of the water into today’s oceans, for example. The ESA has been and continues to be a collaborative effort involving eight countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

I’m all for international collaboration; it really gets things done. So does a budget of some 1.4 billion euros. The American cost that I could find—and it wasn’t so easy—was approximately 275 million dollars. (It’s possible that that figure was just for the Lander Philae itself.)

So why am I complaining? As interesting as it is—and I cop to that--I have a negative attitude about space exploration. Remember how we were going to the moon—hooray!-- and going to cure cancer? What did we do? We went to the moon. Cancer still eats us alive or should I say, dead?

 My priorities are different. What I want is an ESA- quality budget and at least an eight-country collaborative focus on how to feed the millions of starving people all over the world.

 I want a highly trained scientific group devoted to the development of clean water systems for those who have none. The solar system can wait. It has waited this long hasn’t it?

Does it have to be either/ or? It would seem so. The Rosetta Mission has glamour. Yesterday’s successful landing offered us an opportunity to say, “Look how clever we are!”

While feeding the poor? What is that? So ordinary, so mundane that we just don’t do it?

OK. I’m a crank.

Meanwhile, according to today’s Telegraph, “Scientists say full contact has been reestablished with the Rosetta probe, but it is stuck in a crater where it cannot get enough sunlight for its solar panels.” 

Not nearly enough sunlight. 

And so? We will see.


I usually post on Mondays but this could not wait. 


Written by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at