Bob Franken: Humans on the comet

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, November 15, 2014 4:42pm
  • Opinion

How totally cool is it that human beings were able to land a probe on a comet? I refer, of course, to the European Space Agency managing to set its Rosetta craft’s lander down, wobbling on the icy surface of the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it zipped along on its infinite journey through the heavens.

The Rosetta has clocked about 4 billion miles since its launch 10 years back to gather data on comets. I suppose we can call it the Rosetta stone lander now that it’s studying as close as one can get — on the ground. Not that it was easy, and the washing-machine-size craft didn’t exactly find the right spot on a very jagged two-and-a-half-mile surface. After all, we’re talking about a body zipping through the solar system at 44,000 miles per hour.

Besides, it’s a shame the lander didn’t have some passengers. There are any number of people we probably can agree would make us all better off were they to switch their address to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Certainly there are the politicians. Let’s not name names (mainly because there isn’t enough room), but we’d all benefit if we couldn’t really hear what they were saying. I remember that Newt Gingrich used to talk about lunar colonies. This could go him one better, although there is no reason we shouldn’t send him for a close-up look.

There are so many pundits, columnists, radio and TV hosts as well as other strident commentators who should be on the manifest because they are manifestly obnoxious, and yes, there are a few people who think I should be included, but I didn’t want to be selfish. There are space cadets who should go first.

And let’s not leave out those from the nonpolitical realm. Kim Kardashian, I’m talking about you. Look, I was willing to tolerate the fact that you were big-time famous for no earthly reason, but then you had to show us what it was about you that was supposed to be so special. For those who haven’t been keeping up, Kimmie released a picture of her rear end. Her very large rear end. You know, I like backsides as much as the next guy, but this was too much. Somehow I could have lived out my entire life without seeing that. Wouldn’t it be great if she could go where moons are appropriate?

The owner of the Washington National Football League team should be on board, no maybe about it. Dan Snyder refuses to change the name of his squad from the slur against Native Americans, but perhaps the word wouldn’t be so offensive up there. So why not move the entire operation and games? How much colder could it be than Green Bay? Actually, calling them the Washington Comets wouldn’t be half-bad.

Perhaps you’re wondering, seriously, why even bother with such a landing? Don’t we on Earth have meteor problems (sorry, I couldn’t resist)? The answer is as old as time itself: Embedded in the super-frozen rock might be evidence of everything that’s happened since the beginning of existence. How did this solar system form, for instance? It may detect some insights into the sun, as well as other stars. Even if the probe functions for just a short time, the potential is boundless. It’s certainly possible it could send back data on the molecular ancestors of the various organisms and elements that led to the formation of this planet. The potential is there for us to learn more about how it is we came to be, which is more than a little mind-boggling. Maybe we also can get some insight into how certain things went so wrong, like those humans who should be on the passenger list for the next trip.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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