Manchester to Major Tom: Is space mission to land probe on comet worth £1bn?

After a decade chasing down a comet, the Philae probe made a historic landing during the week – another step forward in our search for answers about our universe.

According to figures, the project has cost the European team over £1billion so far and the probe, which is no bigger than a washing machine, will hopefully help solve the mysteries of life on earth and the formation of the solar system.

The comet meanwhile with its catchy name, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is roughly 4km wide, and would easily smother Manchester city centre, stretching from Old Trafford to Oxford Road as the crow flies.

ONE GIANT LEAP: Landing on the huge comet could mean major scientific discoveries

MM took to the street to ask Manchester’s public for their opinion on this momentous event. We asked the following question:

Are space missions like the landing of the Philae probe on a comet worth the time and money?








James Clancy, living in Stretford and currently unemployed, was keen to highlight the importance of such explorations and how we must constantly push the limits if we want to learn more.

The 19-year-old said: “Some of the most useful inventions have been made through space exploration.

“Without it we wouldn’t ever stretch ourselves to come up with such innovative ideas.”

Paul Browne, a Fallowfield resident who works in marketing, was not surprised by the vast sum and believes it will be worth it in the long run.

The 24-year-old said: “Science stuff like this always costs a lot of money. I think it’s pretty cool and yes, it is a lot of money, but no doubt they will find out some things which we didn’t know already.”

WORLDS APART: Paul and Kate had opposing views on if the Rosetta Mission is worthwhile

However not everyone was in agreement. Paul’s friend Kate O’Leary, 23, a student also living in Fallowfield, was not so fascinated by the news.

“It seems like a bit of a waste of time to me but what do I know,” she said.

“The scientists will discover interesting stuff but that could take years and years, so for their sake I hope it’s worth it all.”

Jake Cunningham, a 25-year-old telephone consultant who lives in the Northern Quarter, said: “It was a bit of a surprise as I guess it was to most people when I read about this.

“Who’d have thought landing on a comet was even possible and I think that is what is fascinating.

“Hopefully they will find out some interesting things and it’ll be good to see if they can work out how life on earth began.”

Philippa Reed, a 26-year-old recruitment consultant, was not impressed on hearing how much the project cost and doubted whether much would be gained from the venture.

The Northern Quarter resident said: “It’s all a bit of nonsense really but it gives people something to do. It’s not really my expertise at all but these space missions always seem to cost a ton of money.”

SPACE ODYSSEY: Jake and Philippa could not agree on the value of space exploration

Sarah Evans, 37, was not impressed either and was shocked at the hefty price when told.

“Is that really how much it cost? That does seem a lot,” said the retail assistant from Ashton.

“I guess the money could be better spent elsewhere but these projects always seem to be in the millions.”

David Jones, a 22-year-old student originally from North Wales, believed there were greater concerns on earth that we should focus on first.

He said: “Technology is constantly getting better and so in the future I think that research into space and travel will be important.

“However at the moment, I think £1 billion would be better spent on tackling climate change and improving renewable energy sources.”

But the majority did feel that the mission was worth the time and money and will prove so as time goes by.

Mark Long, 31, a salesman from Northenden, said: “I really hope it works and the scientists learn what they want.

“It seems like early days yet but fingers crossed, because it seems like they could find out some fascinating things if it does begin to work.”

Gareth McIntosh, a 20-year-old student from Bolton, said: “I think it’s great. How often do you get to see stuff like that.

“The photos may look basic but they’ll get better and once they start doing work on the comet I’m sure it will find some amazing stuff about.

WE HAVE LIFT OFF: Matthew’s happy the European space team beat America to a comet landing

Matthew Roberts, 23, was in agreement with Gareth, saying it was good to see Europe beating the USA to something.

“They [USA] always seem to get there first so it’s nice for the European space team to have something to shout about.”

Main image courtesy of DLR German Aerospace Center with thanks.

Related Articles