All this landing on comets business has got me thinking about the next chapter of space exploration in a totally new way. You can have your Armageddons and Deep Impacts with their Aerosmith soundtracks and Morgan Freeman presidents. What happened today reminded me more of 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

2010 is the lesser-known sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, made 16 years later without director Stanley Kubrick (although director Peter Hyams was sure to get his and author Arthur C. Clarke's blessings). Where 2001 is creepy and bizarre and has set design that feels like we've gone to Jupiter in an Apple Store, 2010 is a gritty and far more realistic take on space exploration, right down to the tensions between a U.S.-Russian crew forced to work together due to dwindling funding and resources, even as their countries go to war on Earth.

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As the spunky little Philae landed on the icy Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today, I couldn't help but think of the scene in the film where a pod tries to land on similarly icy Europa, only to be sent a warning from "something" below. We may not find a monolith on this comet, but today's mission made me excited that we're still out there, searching. [Amazon]


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