Once upon a time many years ago (it was 1998), a movie about a death comet on a collision course with Earth stirred up some excitement at the box office just a few weeks prior to the release of a highly similar movie about a planet-killing asteroid pursuing an identically destructive bent. In the comet movie, the extraterrestrial menace actually slams into our Mother Earth unleashing a tidal wave (among other spectacular CGI havoc) that is just barely not fast enough to catch Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski on a dirtbike.
In the other movie, Earth's Real Men of Genius get their act together in time to land a spaceship on the inbound asteroid and use a nuclear bomb blast to break it in two. Disaster averted! Both films came to mind when news broke about a series of deep space photos taken by a high-powered camera aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta satellite. In 2015, Rosetta completed a 10-year investigation of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and astronomers have been poring over the accumulated data ever since.
The big news is that Rosetta's OSIRIS camera captured evidence of a Sun-induced landslide on the surface of 67P's icy nucleus that displaced a massive chunk of ice and rock. (The comet itself is believed to be comparable in size to Japan's Mount Fuji.) Well, it's big news to geeks and science guys, at any rate. And it's also pretty cool news for those of us whose main concern is IT certification.
From start to finish of a discovery like this, teams of scientists rely on highly sophisticated computer equipment. An object the size of 67P probably isn't even visible to the naked eye under most circumstances. Computer technology, on the other hand, lets us send a satellite to intersect the comet's orbit, fly alongside it, and even send a small lander down to its surface. Information is collected, transmitted to Earth, and patiently analyzed, all with the same technology that fits in your pocket, or sits on your desktop.
It's frankly a thrilling reminder of the incredible power of technology to unlock secrets of the universe. If you've ever gotten a little bogged down trying to push through a certification, then it's fun to get a reminder like this one of where that certification could help you get to in five, 10, or 15 years from now. You might be fixing a laptop at the company help desk today. But those same skills could someday land you on the surface of a comet. Just like Bruce Willis in that one movie.
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