I BANGED on about the wonders of scientific endeavour in this column last week, so it seems perfectly natural to do the same this time round too.

Perhaps it is just coincidence but space exploration seems to have gripped the public imagination for various reasons over the last few weeks – both with the crash of the Virgin commercial space trip test flight, tragically costing the life of pilot Michael Alsbury, and, more happily, the impressive big screen spectacle of Interstellar – the first relatively grounded science fiction movie for some time.

But the real source of excitement has been the landmark Rosetta Mission, which saw the Philae probe touchdown on a comet nucleus on Wednesday afternoon.

We hear about incredibly ambitious plans like this right at the start of their missions but it all tends to get a bit forgotten in the time it takes – ten years in this case – to actually send one of these probes to its destination.

But then, all of a sudden, the world seems gripped by the realisation that it is about to happen.

And how mindboggling it is to think that it has actually happened – that it landed pretty successfully, albeit with an unplanned bounce or two, and that a group of scientists are controlling this from about 4 billion miles away.

The manned moon landings are a distant memory for most people now – they never happened in my lifetime – but it’s hard not to imagine that Wednesday’s jolt of interplanetary excitement gave us a glimpse of what those lunar missions must have felt like in the 60s and early 70s.

While the fate of the mission is still in some doubt – although it is even now being termed a success thanks the data and pictures it has already transmitted all that distance to Earth – it is moments like this which will be the inspiration for the next generation of scientific minds, eager to push forward even further.

The argument can always be made – and probably should be made, frankly, so this sort of thing is never done too lightly – that such exploration may be too much of a luxury in these cash-strapped times, with poverty still so prevalent in some corners of the globe and threats like the Ebola virus desperate for more investment. But looking forward seems to be part of the human drive that keeps things in the right direction.

And missions like Rosetta – one element of which touches on a subject no less grand than the search for the origin of life on our planet itself – is, at the very least a celebration of the best kind of human achievement.

OF course, it is hard to push forward without also looking at what has come before – and the last week’s Remembrance events in Bucks have done that in truly impressive and humbling style.

Thousands gathered at the events across our area in this centenary of the start of the First World War, with many youngsters and school pupils engaged and involved in many of the events.

There is often the fear that as we move further away from the world wars of the 20th century their impact could be lost and the sacrifices made perhaps even forgotten.

A quick glance at the pictures our photographers took last weekend should reassure that there doesn’t seem much chance of that happening in Bucks anytime soon.