By Jack Russell
The European Space Agency (ESA) on Friday released photographs that appear to confirm the existence of dog heaven, which for hundreds of years has been the subject of debate, speculation, and wishful thinking.
Though grainy and out of focus, the black-and-white photos clearly show a series of dogs at peace in their afterlife. One image depicts a gentle pit bull lying down with an apparently sleeping poodle. Another image captures a border collie at play with a Siberian husky, the two of them bounding after the same ball and each stopping short to let the other get there first.
The photos were transmitted by the ESA’s Rosetta orbiter after it separated from its landing probe Philae, which currently sits in “idle mode” on Comet 67-P. While awaiting the fate of Philae and with nothing else to do—a condition scientists call “mode ennui”—Rosetta used its G7 telephoto smartphone camera to snap pictures of interstellar space.
After viewing numerous photos of ink-dark space and twinkling stars, astronomers were stunned by an image of “10,000 dogs romping in a sunny landscape of vast, green fields” in Region 34-A of the Milky Way Galaxy, said Clarisse Étoile, chief of ESA image analytics. “We noticed that there were no people around, no leashes and no scoopers or plastic bags for gathering manure. Then it struck us: this must be heaven—canine heaven.”
In celebration of the momentous discovery, mission controllers—the majority of them human—stood still and howled for 30 minutes.