Rosetta’s comet mission is success for European collaboration

Rosetta’s comet mission is success for European collaboration

Years of hard work and cooperation between European countries and business paid off on November 12, 2014, when the European Space Agency (ESA) achieved a remarkable goal, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.

The ESA is a shared project between 14 countries and businesses from Europe and the United States. European Union members, and non-members such as Switzerland, collaborated in a joint project pushing at the boundaries of science.

‘ESA's Rosetta mission soft-landed its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.

‘During the next phase of the mission, Rosetta will accompany the comet through perihelion (August 2015) until the nominal end of the mission. On its 10-year journey towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the spacecraft has passed by two asteroids: 2867 Steins (in 2008) and 21 Lutetia (in 2010). The spacecraft entered deep-space hibernation mode in June 2011, and 'woke up' on 20 January 2014.’

This is one of space sciences’ most outstanding successes. The Philae probe is likely to provide us with scientific breakthroughs about the origin of our own planet. Europe can be proud of this success. The outcome should motivate Europe to address the roots of its political and economic crises with optimism.

This landmark in space exploration proves the importance and success which comes from European collaboration. Collaboration has been proved to work, and it is crucial to see it work without centralisation or harmonisation.

This differs from the approaches of China and Russia. The space mission’s scientific purpose was clear and, because it also involved countries outside Nato, power play was never an issue.

Europe works best in its diversity. Regional competition can bring out the best in Europe. Competition is the best way to achieve excellence and Rosetta is a great example of how it enhances collaboration at a high level.

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