On March 2, 2004, the European Space Agency launched a space probe with robotic lander toward comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. On November 12, 2014 the lander touched down, experiencing a malfunction in its anchoring harpoons and suffering at least two unceremonious bounces (the mass of the robot is 220 pounds, but the weight at the moment of touchdown was half an ounce). Much is undetermined yet at least this much is clear: the lander (named Philae) is secure and functional enough to have started sending images back home.
Some observers have pointed out that ESA’s achievement is only technically a first, that robotic probes have landed on asteroids twice before. True. But the interactive map of Philae’s decade-long, Matrix-speed, four billion-mile pursuit is much cooler.
Contrary to our last several tweets, we haven’t only been watching comets this month. Here are the other stories that caught our attention:
6. “Descriptions differed greatly across individuals and included: (a) huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of the fifty participants); (b) a parent’s face with traits changed (18%), of whom 8% were still alive and 10% were deceased; (c) an unknown person (28%); (d) an archetypal face, such as that of an old woman, a child, or a portrait of an ancestor (28%); (e) an animal face such as that of a cat, pig, or lion (18%); (f ) fantastical and monstrous beings (48%).”
9. An iTunes glitch added a ten-second, static-only track to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. The song briefly sat at the top of iTunes’ Canadian charts. Don DeLillo, author of White Noise, reviewed the white noise.
–C.E. Alexander is the author of four short stories and might have seen a Fallstreak Hole in McKinney, Texas, although that might also have been the spicy food talking. Kindle Unlimited users can read his short story Book of Constants for free, here.