What’s Next For The European Space Agency?

Europe Space Comet Frames

Multiple images of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta spacecraft. Source: Flickr

In August 2014, after a ten-year odyssey through the solar system, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft finally rendezvoused with its target, a comet named 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Three months later, Rosetta sent down Philae, a lander, to dock on the surface of this mass of rock and dust hurtling through space 300 million kilometers from earth. Philae skipped off the comet’s surface twice before skidding to a stop in a shadowy niche. The Europeans had done it. For the first time in history, humans had caught up with a comet and landed a probe on its surface.

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What We Love This Week, Volume CXXIII

Mt St Helens Eruption

An ash plume billows from the crater atop Mount St. Helens hours after its eruption began on May 18th, 1980, in Washington state. The column of ash and gas reached 15 miles into the atmosphere, depositing ash across a dozen states. Source: The Atlantic

The Deadliest Volcanic Eruption In United States History, Just 35 Years Ago This Week

Mt St Helens Trees

A wrecked logging truck and crawler tractor are shown amidst ash and downed trees near Mount St. Helens two days after an explosive eruption. Source: The Atlantic

While you’ve surely heard of the eruption of Washington’s Mount St. Helen’s, which occurred 35 years ago this week, what you may not realize was that it was an earthquake that triggered the eruption and a landslide (the largest in recorded history) plus mudslides and floods as well as further eruptions over the following days. The resulting jumble of numbers is staggering: the volcanic blast shot 80,000 feet in the air, lopping 1,300 feet off the top of the mountain, spreading ash across 11 states and 5 Canadian provinces, sparking mudslides that ran for 50 miles, ultimately causing over $1 billion in damage. Experience the devastation at The Atlantic.

Mt St Helens Kiss

Fifteen-year-old Heidi Havens gives Allen Troup, 16, a kiss as he prepares to board a Spokane City bus, on May 27, 1980. Spokane residents had to wear face masks while outside for days after the eruption because of possible health threats from volcanic ash sprayed over the area by Mount St. Helens on May 18. Source: The Atlantic

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The First Trillionaires Will Be Made In Space: The Future Of Mining

Asteroids In Space

Source: io9

As space colonization begins to look like more of a reality while finding new sources of mineral wealth on Earth increasingly resembles a fantasy, the private sector has set its sights on space–or more specifically on the Manhattan-sized hunks of rock and metal hurtling through space at 56,000 miles per hour–for future sources of fortune. More than 10,000 asteroids currently orbit the Earth, and three men believe they can extract and sell their components for an enormous profit.

Larry Page of Google, filmmaker James Cameron, and Peter Diamandis of the X-Prize Foundation make up this curious hodgepodge of rich white men, and in 2012 they founded a privately-traded company called Planetary Resources, which is the forerunner in the race to extract resources from asteroids. Continue Reading

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