Will Comet 67P Tell us Where we Come from?

From evidence provided by Paleontologists, anthropologists and other scientists, all we know so far about the beginning of human life on planet earth, is that we descend from apes. We got the idea that the oldest fossil of human ancestor skeleton dated 3 million years.

I have once done a DNA test from the genomics project and I found out that my DNA type was found of course originating in Africa, moved to Europe and Russia, crossed the Behring Strait and from there to Asia. But this is a theme for another post!

Last year I visited the UNESCO National Park Serra da Capivara in Brazil, where cave paintings provided potential evidence of human existence dated 25,000 years ago in South America. This data is under a lengthy process of investigation, for a line of anthropologists doubts these findings. If proved correct, by another line of anthropologists, they would revolutionize the classic belief that the first people of the Americas, dated 13,000 years ago in North America.

CavePainting_Brazil

The problem with science research is that in many fields of science – like global warming such as – there are studies with opposing views, which apparently serve to prove their points, but confuse the rest of us here. They adopt methods of scientific investigation, which may be elaborated to confirm their first beliefs, and we are left with our empirical preferences as opposed to data we can rely on.

Let me first set one thing straight. Despite of these rivalries, I’m not going to elaborate on the subject of our origin, from any other but the view of science, which is the one I rather consider more balanced and close to my way of thinking. I keep in mind that science is fallible nevertheless. I’m not a rocket scientist, so we are safe here.

On November 12, the European Space Agency completed the Rosetta spacecraft journey when landing a robotic probe on a comet – named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko! What’s that for a name! The mission took ten years and the spacecraft travelled 6.4 billion kilometers around the solar system.

Rosetta

Watching on TV when the robotic probe touched down more than 500 million kilometers away from earth was a cosmic historic moment. This mission, if successful, could give invaluable information on the composition and behavior of comets.

Comets are old debris aged 4,5 billion years. They are essentially made of ice, gas and dust, and can give us insights about the solar system formation because the sun’s power blasts water from off the comets surface.

But wait a minute. When a journalist asked the opinion of one of the rocket scientists, my attention doubled. He added that the comet could lead to the discovery of ‘who we are and where we come from!’

What? I found this comment at least arrogant and full of scientific superiority, as he said no more to prove his point – perhaps thinking of it as unnecessary, for we stupid people would not understand it anyway. He let me down and in a mix of perplexity and disappointment. I equally disagree with anyone playing God’s representative on earth – being it a religious orthodox or an orthodox scientist.

I gasped for air and went searching for more information on this mission.

You may not be as interested in space as I’m, and for that I won’t make this a badly written post from a pseudo-internet-based-scientist.

But you may at least find interesting to know what I found: the robotic probe will analyze the chemical components of the water existing in the comet to compare with the water of our planet. In case there is a similarity, that would strengthen the theory that our water was brought here by comets. It will also investigate if comets also brought planet’s earth life building blocks – our amino acids and proteins. This is mind-blowing.

The probe called ‘Philae’ uses a solar-powered battery allowing it to send data for several months. Unfortunately, as you may have followed the news, the probe it’s on a shadowy area of the comet; which means that the battery won’t be recharged by the sunlight. That would cut the mission short.

I was relieved to read all that. That scientist was pushing his ‘scientific based’ beliefs too far by giving opinions instead of factual reasoning; I hope that was motivated by the excitement with the landing.

I am hoping that little probe accomplishes his mission. It would be a waste of over 25 years of research, a 10 years cruise of the Rosetta mothership and 1,3 billion euro.

Even though this mission wouldn’t answer our big question, it would help us better understand the possible origin of the organic components of life in our planet.

As to our existential question, we seem to be destined to wonder; and perhaps that’s what makes our lives more interesting, as we keep searching for meaning.

What do you think?

Posted by

Sharing my views and experiences with words and photos - taken with diverse angles - influenced by the multicultural countries I have lived and worked. I studied Psychology and have an MBA. After working for corporates, I became an entrepreneur and consultant. Cycling, hiking, windsurfing, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photographing, are no longer just hobbies listed in a resume.

11 thoughts on “Will Comet 67P Tell us Where we Come from?

    1. The battery of the probe died 😦 Let’s hope that as the comet moves towards the sun, it can get more light and resume the analysis. I think we all hope to see this happening in our lifetime. Thanks for reading.

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  1. A great post, since I was v young I have been fascinated by our place in the universe and by space exploration. Who are we, where did we come from, and what would it feel like to be 300 million miles from home and running out of power…I hope Philae helps us learn more and thank you for this post 🙂

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    1. Thank you for reading it and retweeting as well, Andy. I share the same fascination and followed every step of the mission in the last days. Sadly, Philae’s battery is not working anymore…Hope to hear soon the findings from the analysis which took place before that.

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  2. Nicely written! Really appreciate not only your talk about the Philae probe, but also touching upon the big questions that are implied through such ambitious scientific investigation. The problem with that ambition, both in cosmic and historical terms amongst others, is it is naturally accompanied by increasing uncertainty which can lead to disagreement within the scientific community, as you mentioned, and attacks by its opponents whether the confidence in their views are substantiated or not (going back to your Bukowski quote last week, getting good use of it!). One offbeat piece of encouragement from this event is that based on Twitter, it got more attention than she who tried to break the internet with her you know what.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/11/13/did-kim-kardashian-break-the-internet-how-she-compared-with-the-comet-landing-on-twitter/
    As for one of your other recent posts, as derived from the Bukowski quote, your doubts reflect your intelligence, and there can be no further doubt after such a smartly written piece like this. Don’t worry about whether you can be a good blogger and just keep doing what you’re doing. Leave that assessment to your audience. This reader says you’re doing a terrific job.

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    1. I’m happy that Bukowski quote has been so helpful and insightful.Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.I’m grateful for your following and support. I do what I love; and that is my best.

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      1. Thanks Lucile for this and your kind comments on my blog as well! As you can tell, like that rocket scientist you mentioned, I’ve been reaching for some ambitious topics though hopefully not in such an arrogant and pretentious way. Greatly appreciate your support, but feel free to keep me honest.
        Added the final element to my graphic representation of the Bukowski quote in today’s post, if you’re curious. http://wp.me/p4PBOt-3L

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