TIME space

Celebrate Philae’s Comet Landing With These 3 Mesmerizing Music Videos

Time for a victory dance

To celebrate the successful touchdown Wednesday of its Philae lander on Comet 67P, the European Space Agency released these three music videos inspired by the decade-long mission and scored by Greek composer Vangelis. The videos show an entrancing artist’s rendition of Comet 67P “dancing” in space, as well as an animation of Philae’s journey to the comet on the Rosetta spacecraft.

Philae will remain on the comet’s surface as it approaches the sun and will relay data back to Rosetta as it continues to orbit 67P. The mission is expected to end in December 2015.

“Philae’s Journey”

“Arrival”

TIME space

See Pictures of Philae Detaching From Rosetta

Philae as seen from Rosetta
The Philae lander shortly after separation from Rosetta, on Nov. 12, 2014. ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/EPA

Space probe landed on a speeding comet for the first time ever

A space probe landed on a speeding comet for the first time ever on Wednesday morning. More than a decade ago, Rosetta and a lander called Philae set off to find the commit 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The European Space Agency’s Philae lander separated from the Rosetta orbiter at 09:03 GMT on Tuesday and touched down on the speeding comet around 4:00 GMT.

Scientists hope that exploring the comet will answer questions about how planets are formed.

TIME Science

Buzz Aldrin: Pioneers Will Always Pave the Way With Sacrifice

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Test Flight In Mojave Desert
Sheriff's deputies inspect the wreckage of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip 2 in a desert field November 2, 2014 north of Mojave, California on The Virgin Galactic SpaceShip 2 crashed on October 31, 2014 during a test flight, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another. Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images

Dr. Buzz Aldrin served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission.

That first human landing on the moon—a small step for mankind—was about taking risks to reap great rewards. Today, more steps are needed

Pioneering the space frontier is a perilous business.

That was recently underscored by the catastrophic breakup of the commercial Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo and the loss of one of its two pilots in testing the vehicle.

My career as an aircraft pilot and astronaut has been punctuated by both risk-taking and the loss of several close colleagues. The Apollo 1 fire in January 1967 claimed my good friends Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in a launch pad training exercise.

And it was Gus who had earlier voiced his view of the perils associated with pushing the boundaries of curiosity and exploration:

If we die, we want people to accept it. We’re in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.

We also cannot forget the lost crews of America’s Challenger and Columbia space-shuttle orbiters and the deaths of several cosmonauts of the former Soviet Union. They all were forging our future in space.

Unfortunately, pioneers will always pave the way with sacrifices.

Every type of transportation has involved loss of life, as witnessed with the Conestoga wagon heading west and giving way to the stagecoach, the railroads, motor homes and eventually airplanes.

Indeed, airlines came into existence because of the commercial use of World War I aircraft, put to work to carry mail for the government. That convinced the commercial sector to develop the airlines of today.

Now we are contemplating point-to-point and suborbital rocket flight, a distinctly commercial stepping stone from the pioneering days of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo’s giant leap to the moon.

The future is about wings and wheels and new forms of space transportation, along with our deep-space ambition to set foot on another world in our solar system: Mars.

I firmly believe we will establish permanence on that planet. And in reaching for that goal, we can cultivate commercial development of the moon, the asteroid belt, the Red Planet itself and beyond. Following that trajectory means returning with scientific knowledge, sharpening our space know-how and utilizing celestial resources that improve the lives of all here on Earth.

We need to look forward to countries around the globe following our lead and establishing a rotating permanence on Mars for science and commercial resources.

Some 45 years ago, when Neil Armstrong and I stepped upon the surface of the moon at Tranquility Base, we fulfilled a dream held by humankind for centuries. Yes, it was one small step. Today, more steps are needed.

Apollo 11 was rooted in exploration. That first human landing on the moon was about taking risks to reap great rewards in science and engineering. It was about setting an ambitious goal, anchored in political will and staying power. And it was about harnessing industry — big and small — fueled by talented teams of individuals working together to attain a common objective.

To go back to the recent SpaceShipTwo tragedy, I echo the sentiment voiced by my good friend Richard Branson, an adventurous entrepreneur and the leader of Virgin Galactic: “I truly believe that humanity’s greatest achievements,” he said, “come out of our greatest pain.”

Those space pioneers that are no longer with us were hungry to serve, and they served all of us here residing on our tiny niche of the huge universe.

There’s no doubt that there will be many trials and tribulations along the way in taming space for the benefit of all, unmasking its truths and using the boundless resources available to us. Taking a chance allows us to seek new horizons — and we all benefit from being horizon hunters.

Dr. Buzz Aldrin served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission. He is the author of eight books, including his New York Times best selling autobiography Magnificent Desolation. His newest book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, was published in 2013. As one of the leading space exploration advocates, Buzz continues to chart a course for future space travel. He is an unpaid advisory board member for XCOR Space Expeditions.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME space

See the Stunning New Portrait of Mars from India’s MOM Spacecraft

Mars photographed by the ISRO Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft on Sept. 30, 2014.
Mars photographed by the ISRO Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft on Sept. 30, 2014. ISRO—AFP/Getty Images

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which began orbiting the Red Planet on Sept. 23, has already sent back a stunning new portrait of Mars. The image taken Sept. 28 shows the beginnings of a dust storm on the surface of the planet and was taken by the Mars Color Camera aboard the spacecraft. The Mars Orbiter will be collecting images and other data from the planet’s surface and atmosphere using five sensors, four of which have already been switched on.

This data will be shared with NASA, according to an agreement signed on Sept. 30 between the two agencies to collaborate on Mars exploration. NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft entered Mars’s orbit just two days ahead of MOM, and will be able to receive data from Opportunity and Curiosity rovers on the planet’s surface.

TIME

Journey to the Red Planet: MAVEN Approaches Martian Orbit

Ahead of its arrival, take a look back at the spacecraft's evolution

On Sept. 21, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will arrive in orbit around Mars and embark on a one-Earth-year long mission to collect data from the planet’s upper atmosphere. MAVEN launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Nov. 18, 2013 and, over the last 10 months, covered a journey of 442 million miles to get where it’s going. The spacecraft is the very first to be dedicated to the study and measurement of Mars’ upper atmosphere.

“The MAVEN science mission focuses on answering questions about where the water that was present on early Mars [went], about where did the carbon dioxide go,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in a statement. “These are important questions for understanding the history of Mars, its climate, and its potential to support at least microbial life.”

MAVEN, which is equipped with a telecommunications package that allows it to relay data from the Curiosity and Opportunity Rovers currently exploring the planet’s surface, is one of several efforts NASA has undertaken to prepare for potential human exploration of Mars.

TIME Science

Buzz Aldrin: It’s Time to Put a Man on Mars

George Washington University Space Policy Institute Holds Humans To Mars Summit
NASA Apollo XI astronaut Buzz Aldrin speaks at the Humans to Mars Summit on April 22, 2014 at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Win McNamee—Getty Images

On the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, the U.S. should decide on the necessary steps to explore Mars with the eventual goal of establishing a manned settlement there.

It’s hard to believe that on July 20, 2014, we’ll be celebrating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11, man’s first landing on the moon. It’s also hard to believe that no one can really say where the U.S. manned space exploration program is heading and how we’re going to get there. People come up to me and say, “It’s too bad the space program got canceled.” This is not the case, and yet that is what most of the public thinks has happened. Yes, we hear from NASA that the destination is Mars — and yet there is no detailed plan on how to get there. No one can seem to agree on a clear path. The nation is understandably focused on many other pressing challenges at the moment. However, if we don’t make some important decisions about the future of our space program very soon, I’m afraid the program will be lost to the ages.

There are eight U.S. astronauts left out of the 12 who walked on the moon. All of us are in the eighth decade of our lives. Each of us can attest to the importance of continuing human exploration of space and the tremendous impact it has had on so many facets of our society. The technical innovations, scientific achievements, medical breakthroughs, environmental enhancements, national defense improvements and educational impacts have been immeasurable. Our nation simply cannot afford to lose a program that has contributed so much for so long. Our leaders have some important decisions to make and they need to make them now. The moon must not be the last stop in America’s quest for knowledge of other planets and of other places.

Here’s what we as a nation must decide:

  1. Does the United States wish to continue leading human exploration of space or leave it to Russia, China, India or some other nation to take over? To me, the answer is obvious.
  2. Does it not make good sense for the U.S. to take the high ground by establishing cooperative U.S.-China relations in space? We did it with the Soviet Union through the Apollo-Soyuz program back in July 1975, and I believe it is even more important to do it with the PRC in 2014. Cooperation, not confrontation, should be the hallmark of our dealings with the Chinese beyond Earth.
  3. Does it make sense for the U.S. to expend hundreds of billions of dollars to mount a new Apollo-style program to return to the moon? Or have we blazed that trail? Shouldn’t we help other nations achieve this goal with their own resources but with our help? Rather than doing again something we did 45 years ago, shouldn’t the U.S. be developing a path toward Mars?
  4. And shouldn’t the U.S. develop the technological capabilities needed to land humans on Mars by first traveling to a nearby asteroid for research and development purposes? A hybrid human-robot mission to investigate an asteroid affords a realistic opportunity to demonstrate new technological capabilities for future deep-space travel and to test spacecraft for long-duration spaceflight. This is imperative, as we’ve never done manned missions beyond the moon.
  5. And speaking of Mars, are we prepared as a nation to take the necessary steps to explore Mars with the eventual goal of establishing a manned settlement on that planet? To me, the answer should be a resounding “yes.”

It’s unlikely that the remaining Apollo astronauts, including yours truly, will be around to witness the conclusion of the next exciting chapter in our nation’s space program. However, we would like to be here when our President and Congress make these critical decisions. If our leaders make the right decisions — and they must — we’re confident the new manned space program will meet or exceed the tremendous success of the Apollo program so many years ago. But let’s make these decisions now.

Dr. Buzz Aldrin served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission. He is the author of eight books, including his New York Times best-selling autobiography Magnificent Desolation. His newest book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, was published in 2013. As one of the leading space exploration advocates, Buzz continues to chart a course for future space travel.

TIME space travel

Watch: Astronauts Aboard ISS Answer Your Questions

What simple pleasures are missing up in space? A nice, warm shower, for starters

Three of the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station spoke with TIME this week, via video downlink, to answer some of our readers’ questions on their daily lives 240 miles above Earth.

Watch this video clip for answers to everything–from what types of cameras these three use in space to get stunning shots like this one, to they really miss about the old home planet.

TIME space station

Join Us for a Conversation Between TIME and the Space Station

The space station as photographed by the shuttle Endeavour
The space station as photographed by the shuttle Endeavour NASA; Getty Images

Astronauts flying a million-pound machine 230 miles overhead don't have a lot of time to chat, but Time snagged them for a few minutes. Join us for some live air-to-ground chatter.

Everything about the International Space Station (ISS) is built to wow. It’s almost exactly the size of a football field, has as much habitable space as a six-bedroom house, orbits 230 miles overhead, required 115 space flights to build and carries a solar panel array with a surface area of one acre. The offices of TIME magazine—located on the slightly less glamorous Avenue of the Americas and 51st St. in New York City, and with about as much habitable space as, um, an office— can hardly compete. But on July 9, the two worlds will briefly collide, as TIME chats via video downlink with the ISS.

There are currently six crewmen aboard the station, and we’ll be talking to three of them: commander Steve Swanson and flight engineer Reid Wiseman, both of NASA, as well as flight engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. Like all space station crews, this one has been tending both to matters celestial (conducting biomedical, engineering and materials science experiments, as well as maintaining the station itself) and matters terrestrial, most recently their eye-in-the-sky observations of Hurricane Arthur.

Other matters down on Earth concern the crew too. It may have been fun and games when Gerst’s native Germany bested the U.S. in the first round of the World Cup, but the dust-up between Russia and the U.S. over Ukraine is awfully hard to ignore when the other three members of the crew are Russian cosmonauts. TIME will be chatting with the crew about these and other matters—and would like to hear your suggestions.

Consider what you’d like to ask three men in a million-pound machine flying over head at 17,500 mph if you had the chance—because now you do.

TIME Space Exploration

The International Space Station Is Getting an Espresso Machine

The lattes will be out of this world

The International Space Station is 240 miles above earth, but that doesn’t mean astronauts don’t have a hard time getting up in the morning — after all, they can make a run to the stars, but not a run to the Starbucks.

But the ISS is about to get a little caffeinated pep in its one-small-step-for-man, in the form of ISSpresso, its very own, customized espresso machine. Italian coffee brand Lavazza teamed up with aerospace engineering company Argotec to design the device, which will be the first machine designed to withstand travel when it arrives at the space station later this year as a part of the Italian Space Agency’s Futura Mission.

When it connects, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti won’t just become the first Italian woman in space — she’ll likely be the first person in space to sip an Italian espresso.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser