Celestial Send-off

by Summer Ash

 

Yesterday morning, the European Space Agency's Rosetta Mission was given a fond farewell as it performed the final maneuver of its programmed life - a controlled descent onto the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. I'm still consoling myself on the loss by cozying up on my couch in my Le Petite Prince sweater which is one of my most treasured possession in the world.


 

Rosetta launched in 2004, but didn't fully enter our hearts and minds when it rendezvoused with its target in mid-2014 and began sending back some of the most incredible images of this strangely beautiful rocky interloper. 

Browsing through ESA's Rosetta gallery reminds me just what an amazing time we live in. Humans banded together to create the dream, the technology, and the means to not only build and launch a spacecraft to a comet, but one that could orbit it, send down a lander, and then later descend to the surface itself.

Every single image is worth contemplating in detail if you have a quite moment, but here are just a few of my favorites.

 

October 19, 2014: As Rosetta approached the comet in the summer of 2014, scientists saw the comet had a very irregular shape, instead of one lumpy body, it looked more like two stuck together. In fact, the closer Rosetta got, the increased resolution in images revealed it to be shaped like a rubber duck. This image is looking from the "head" of the duck towards the "body." (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

 

January 22, 2015: Comet 67P from a distance of 27.9 km above the surface looking at the "neck" area of the duck. The Hathor cliffs are to the left and the Hapi region strewn with boulders are just right of center. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

 

July 26, 2015: When Rosetta first reached Comet 67P, it was far enough away from the Sun that it wasn't yet "active". But as it continued toward the inner solar system, the Sun's heat caused the ices on the comet to warm and sublimate (go directly from solid to gas). This activity is what gives comet's their characteristic comas and tails. Comet 67P was too small to produce a large observable tail in the popular sense, but Rosetta go a great look at its many outgassing events. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

 

September 30, 2016: Rosetta took a few last photos during its final approach. This is from roughly 16 km above the surface, captured overnight (at least for this New Yorker). (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

 

September 30, 2016: A collage of images of Rosetta's targeting landing site as it continued to descend. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

 

September 30, 2016: Rosetta's final photograph. Scientists estimate this is approximately 20 meters above the surface. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

There's a sign at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that reads "Dare Mighty Things". I always think of that when celebrating amazing feats like Rosetta. Go big or go home. Rosetta went big and now its at rest in its new home, riding through the Solar System on what is probably the best roller coaster ever.

Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. Having been both a rocket scientist and a radio astronomer, she’s now harnessing her powers for science communication. She is the "In-House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show and has written for The AtlanticScientific American, Slate, and Nautilus Magazine. She tweets as @Summer_Ash and is also one-half of Startorialist.

 

Filed under: astronomy clothes comet cosmos exploration little prince petit atlas petit prince rosetta comet rosetta landing science science life space universe

The Prince on Rosetta's Comet: Searching For Deeper Meaning

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Inspiring awe and wonder since the dawn of history, Comets are something to be celebrated. In discovering NASA’s image of the Comet and the launch of Rosetta, one of our favorite childhood books came to mind, Le Petit Prince, which is simultaneously being launched into the public domain this spring. In the book, an aviator, downed in the desert with limited odds of survival, meets the Prince who has traveled from his solitary home on a distant asteroid,  tormented by the single rose with which he lives. Noted as a young person, not yet a man nor a boy, his central emotions of conflict—isolation, fear, and uncertainty—are alleviated only by intimate speech and love. The story, it turns out, is a fable of war that explores the deeper complexities, abstract ideas and emotions associated with the ‘strange defeat’ of France, with the experience of Vichy and the Occupation. With the launch of Rosetta (a ten year mission), NASA hopes to find a deeper meaning of space and earth by catching and exploring the Comet.

 

Existential pose, Samar Seraqui de Buttafaco, Une Libanaise à Paris.

Rosetta holds great significance, being the first spacecraft to soft-land a robot on a comet, furthermore accompanying the comet as it enters our solar system. It will observe how the comet transforms from the sun’s heat, a process that has inspired people for centuries.

Though the origins of these two stories, and landmark events, are significantly different - both in time and space - their themes are significantly parallel. As true connectivity to our inner selves and earth becomes more and more rare, we continue to search for meaning. We often look outside of ourselves to feel more grounded, when we are all searching for the same things: connection, understanding, and love- just like the Prince. We ask: Is this a story of war with ourselves?

To celebrate these themes, we’ve combined NASA’s image of the comet with Le Petit Prince to create the ‘Prince on the Comet Rosetta’ sweater. Printed in Brooklyn, New York, on 100% cotton, each collage requires 8 screens to print. This, in and of itself, serves as a significant point of our creative process. The number 8 represents perfection and infinity, further bringing to life the underlying dualities and theme of seeking deeper meaning and connection within imperfect scenarios.

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Written by Emilie Hawtin

Filed under: cotton france inspiration made in usa petit prince rosetta rosetta landing science life

Le Petit Prince on Rosetta

by Celine Semaan Vernon

To mark the entry of Le Petit Prince in the Public Domain in 2015 and to celebrate both Rosetta's images of the Comet and the release of Le Petit Prince the movie, we have created this collage inspired by Boris Anthony's tweet of the Petit Prince on the Comet.

Pre-Order it today! We are running a limited edition only. Silk Screened in New York. 100% Cotton made in USA.

Model: ULAP, SAMAR SERAQUI DE BUTTAFOCO

Photography by: Rachel Barrett

Filed under: cotton petit prince rosetta silk screen ulap usa