What the world was like when Rosetta was launched



Meredith Oldham, Staff Writer

10 years, 8 months, and 18 days ago, space probe Rosetta left Earth.

The date was March 2nd, 2004. It was a Tuesday and my sixth birthday was exactly one week away. Ten years later,  I’m 16 years old and Rosetta lands on the nucleus of a comet, leaving the 2004 Earth far behind.

There’s no doubt that a lot has changed in the past ten years when Rosetta left Earth, so lets take a look at the world the way Rosetta remembers it.


The TV Show Friends was still airing although it would finish its ten year run that May.

We still had a space shuttle program (this ended in 2011).

Youtube would not be founded for another year (Remember renting movies from Blockbuster?).

George W. Bush was the United States President and the Iraq War had just begun the previous year.

Kim Possible was the hero of girls across the world (the show ended in 2007).

Only 65% of American adults had a cellphone (this number was reported to be upwards of 91% in 2013) and only 45% of teenagers had cellphones (source).

iTunes and iPods were both less than three years old, although neither had “taken off.” (anyone a fan of portable CD players?)

Taylor Swift was only 14 years old. And Miley Cyrus was 11!

Countries like South Sudan, Montenegro, and Kosovo did not yet exist as sovereign states.

Additionally countries like the Netherlands Antilles and Serbia-Montenegro existed at the time of Rosetta’s launch but no longer exist today.

The third Harry Potter Film (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) was soon to be released and the fifth Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) had also recently been released.

Only 24% of American homes had high-speed broadband internet, and Facebook had just been released. Today there are far more Facebook users than there were people on the entire internet in 2004.

The iconic film, Mean Girls, was about to be released in the US.

Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple (Jobs died in 2011).

Google looked like this:


Nowhere in the US was same sex marriage legal, but Massachusetts was about to become the first state in the US to legalize it after the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case in 2003.

The first iPhone would not be released for another three years, Instagram for another six, and Snapchat for another seven.

The Ann Richards School did not exist and would not for the next three years along with help from the late Governor Ann Richards.


The Rosetta Spacecraft landed on a comet nucleus on November 12th, 2014, and it’s safe to say that if it returned to the US tomorrow (which is impossible, but hypothetically speaking) it would find a very different planet Earth than the one it left ten years ago.

Sure, we might not have Kim Possible anymore, but we have iPhones, lower infant mortality rates, and the Ann Richards School, so I think we’re doing alright after all.