ESA Uses Science Fiction To Draw Attention To Comet Mission

You wouldn’t think that the ESA (European Space Agency) would need to pull any stunts to promote its Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The prospect of successfully trailing and landing a remote satellite on the comet seems thrilling enough.

However, the ESA teamed up with an Oscar-nominated movie director, Tomek Bagiński, to produce a short film called Ambition. The film highlights the importance of what Rosetta aims to achieve. The short film is only seven minutes long, but includes two big name stars: Aidan Gillen from Game of Thrones and Aisling Franciosi from The Fall.

A teaser trailer for Ambition was launched a few weeks ago, and as there was little accompanying it to describe what it was, the trailer had science fiction fans abuzz with discussions about its origin.

Finally, the film was revealed in all its glory at the British Film Institute in London on Friday. It was all part of the BFI’s special Scifi season called Days of Fear and Wonder. Attendees had heard that there had been more than 350,000 views of the trailer on YouTube with much speculation about its meaning. Finally, the crowd was let in on the secret. Ambition wasn’t a trailer for a new Hollywood special effects blockbuster, but rather a promotion tool for a real life mission executed by the ESA.

Here’s Ambition in its entirety.

The ESAs Ambition depicts a Master and a Student. The Master asks the Student what the key to life on Earth is. “Water,” she answers. The Master then uses some nifty telekinesis to conjure up a scale model of the solar system in the rock around them. The Master then starts reminiscing about comets, about the ice they carry through space. He then speaks about the Rosetta mission that happened “a long time ago.”

Ambition was shot in Iceland, according to the official ESA website. Fantastic visual effects were added to the already alien landscape. Gillen stars as the enigmatic Master who encourages his Student, Franciosi. Ambition was produced jointly with Poland’s Platige Image. The viewing of the movie was followed by a making-of documentary, before the Rosetta mission’s Senior Scientific Advisor, Mark McCaughrean, explained why ESA had made it.

“Just like the characters played by Aidan and Aisling, we too are asking the big questions, searching for the keys to life on Earth, with the knowledge that comets provide a crucial piece of the puzzle.”

The ESA’s Rosetta Mission will attempt to land on the comet on November 12th.

[Image via The Verge]