Humankind made history last week when the Rosetta spacecraft’s robotic lander Philae touched down on Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko. Actually, it landed three times, at 15:34 (pictured above), 17:25, and 17:32 GMT. Yes, the Philae bounced a couple of times, and ended up without enough access to sunlight, so it’s hibernating until it and the comet get closer to the sun. Having made the dropoff, the still-transmitting Rosetta shifts into “comet escort phase,” in the words of Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo, accompanying the comet towards our star (with a closest pass of about 186 million miles).
Back on earth, it didn’t take long for the memes to set in, including widely-echoed references to Armageddon the movie, in which Bruce Willis detonates a comet — especially this image showing Bruce Willis in the movie along with the words, “Spacecraft lands on a comet… that’s cute.”
Can someone @spotify please release the data for Aerosmith song plays today vs the historical average?
— Jon Lax (@jlax) November 12, 2014
We hear you, @jlax. Your friend @tsmuse, who replied, “Dude, you know that stats are going to be Amazing :p,” was correct:
November 13: Massive spike in “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” Listening
See that spike in plays for “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” from the Armageddon soundtrack? It happened on November 13, the day after Philae touched down on the comet. What’s up with that? It makes sense, actually. ESA tweeted the first image of the landing at 1:45am ET on November 13th, and the official media briefing about the landing was also the following day. And of course the memes were gathering steam throughout.
Speaking of memes, the song appears to spike on all kinds of Thursdays — not just the one on which human first landed robot on comet. It could have to do with the song being included on so many Throwback Thursday playlists. As it turns out, “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” is the 47th most popular inclusion in such playlists, so it’s kind of a Thursday jam anyway (the top “Throwback Thursday” track right now is Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”).
So wait, do people listen to this song whenever there’s a comet or other flying-space-object event? Sure enough, the song spiked globally on the following days:
February 14, 2013: The Russian Meteor and Valentine’s Day
The Earth also has a “Close Shave” with Asteroid 2012 DA14 as news spreads of Asteroid 2012 DA14 upcoming approach on the 15th. It’s also Valentine’s Day, and “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” is the #9 song in “Valentine’s Day” playlists. But still. Meteor! Armageddon! Bruce Willis! Aerosmith!
February 14, 2014: Valentine’s Day as ‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroid’ EM26 approaches
September 18, 2014: Meteors, other possible factors
September Pi Orionids meteor shower is seen equally well from both hemispheres. It’s also the first anniversary of Asteroid 2013 RZ53 passing between the earth and the moon, and news also breaks today that the fireball that passed over Colorado was part of a spy satellite. Perhaps others were commemorating The Great Comet of 1882. One thing we know for sure: People played “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.”
August 7, 2014: News spreads of Rosetta’s Comet Arrival
Rosetta successfully inserted itself into the orbit of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6. People listened to “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”:
Thanks for the suggestion, @jlax.
(Top photo: ESA)