The effects of spaceflight on a Rosetta plush toy

The Rosetta space probe took more than 10 years to land on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko - but can a Rosetta plush toy survive a journey into the stratosphere?

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The Rosetta space probe spent over 10 years travelling through the solar system to land on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. In doing so, it generated huge amounts of publicity, especially on social media. Rosetta acquired a personality through its twitter account, with regular updates on its mission. A series of cartoons from the European Space Agency documented Rosetta and Philae, it's lander, on their journey through space.

The whole project has been a real success story, not just for the discoveries about comets (including finding organic compounds and the amino acid glycine), but for how to communicate complex scientific findings to the public and particularly engage young people in this research.

This week a Polish team have taken the unusual step of sending a Rosetta plush toy into the stratosphere using a balloon - recreating a key scene from the Rosetta cartoon series. The video, shown above, shows how space research still has the ability to excite us all - sometimes in unexpected ways.

Ben Johnson

Magazine Editor, Nature Medicine, Springer Nature

I trained as a virologist, starting with an undergraduate degree in virology from the University of Warwick, UK. My PhD, in influenza virus genetics and immunoevasion, was from Public Health England and the University of Reading, UK, with Maria Zambon and Wendy Barclay. My research interests then moved to smallpox vaccines, viral ion channels and cell adhesion, while a postdoc at Imperial College London with Geoffrey Smith, FRS. I then joined open-access publisher BioMed Central in 2011 as an editor and then associate publisher and was Head of Communities & Engagement at Springer Nature from 2016, running the Nature Research Communities and other online engagement activities for researchers. I joined Nature Medicine in 2021, with responsibility for news and opinion content, and am based in the London office.