Friday, October 24, 2014

Scifi short promotes comet mission

The European Space Agency has released a short scifi movie to promote its audacious Rosetta comet mission.

Called, suitably, Ambition, it stars Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen and actress Aisling Franciosi as master and apprentice on an alien world.

In the seven-minute drama, the pair discuss the presence of water on planets and the origin of life.

These are themes Esa's Rosetta probe hopes to address in its study of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Next month, the spacecraft will drop a small robot on to the surface of the 4km-wide ice body to analyse its chemistry.

Theory holds that comets may have been responsible for delivering water to the planets early in the Solar System's history. They could even have delivered important chemistry that helped to kick-start biology. The mission intends to test these ideas.

Esa hopes the movie-short will explain the goals of Rosetta to a wider audience and heighten excitement ahead of the landing attempt on 12 November.

Ambition was shot on location in Iceland, and was directed by Poland's Tomek BagiƄski, who received an Oscar nomination in 2003 for his animated short Katedra.

It is available to view online, and will be the first thing visitors to the Esa website see over the weekend.

The mission 'trailer' is starting to look like an essential part of the outreach activities for the biggest space ventures.

Nasa, the American equivalent of Esa, created a buzz ahead of its Curiosity rover landing in 2012 with a short called Seven Minutes of Terror. It described the engineering challenges of putting a one tonne robot on the surface of the Red Planet.

The comet landing will be more like seven hours of terror. That is how long it will take the little robot called Philae to reach the surface of 67P after being ejected by the Rosetta 'mothership'. and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos