If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know I am a big fan of NASA. But, as much as we Americans like to be #1 and want everything to always be about us, there are other space agencies in the world. While not as blessed with a budget as large as NASA’s (and that’s pitifully small if you ask me), the Europeans, Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, and a whole host of others nations are working towards building a space-based society.
The Europeans are excellent makers of robotic explorers. One of their “long term” missions, Rosetta, is nearing a key point in its travels. On its way out to its rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014 (where it will go on orbit and release a lander!), Rosetta will make a swing by of Mars once and Earth three times! The third and final swing-by of home is set for this month. Emily Lakdawalla over at the Planetary Society blog, highlights a great picture of a crescent moon taken from Rosetta as it approaches our Earth-Moon system.
I feel so lucky to be alive at a time when space science is going through such a boon. I predict that it is going to be a great 10 – 20 years!