The landing of the probe Philae from the Rosetta spacecraft on a comet, now 300 million miles from earth after a ten year voyage travelling at 34000 mph, is a huge triumph for technology. Philae now gives a platform for the scientists to make some basic discoveries about the origins of life on our Earth. Coming on the week when the epic sci-fi film, Interstellar, was released emphasises that space fiction, shown in past films, is fast becoming reality.
Much of the success of the Rosetta mission is due to ultra-reliable communication and instrumentation systems. Many of their basic components are based on MEMS and microchip technologies working in harsh environments. The huge technological advances made in these small technologies in the last decade have given today’s space scientists and engineers greater opportunities to realise their future ambitions. During the last decade some of the companies involved in this project have participated in MANCEF’s COMS conferences. Reliable integrated MEMS systems working in harsh environments have often featured in these conferences.