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The Rosetta comet mission cost half as much as the US midterm elections

One of the most amazing things about today's unprecedented comet landing is the surprisingly reasonable cost of the Rosetta mission: 1.4 billion euros (or $1.74 billion).

That's certainly a lot of money. But compared to other big public engineering projects, it comes out looking like a pretty sensible investment for such a historic achievement. This infographic, from Scienceogram.uk, puts the Rosetta mission into context:

rosetta cost

(Scienceogram.uk)

The entire mission cost about the same as four Airbus A380 planes (each of which cost $414 million).

Some other interesting comparisons: the mission cost just 40 percent more than the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium ($1.2 billion), about 47 percent of what was spent on the 2014 midterm elections ($3.67 billion), and about 7.4 percent of the cost of the 2014 Sochi Olympics (at least $23.4 billion).

One factor helping is actually the length of the mission. Because Rosetta was in flight for 10 years, its components were designed and manufactured in the early 2000s or earlier, when things were somewhat cheaper due to inflation.

But the remarkable mission's low cost is also just a reminder that sending probes into space is simply much cheaper than sending people. Earlier this year, India successfully put a probe in orbit around Mars for less than the cost of the film Gravity.

For more on Rosetta, check out our full article, or watch our video: The unprecedented comet landing, explained in 3 minutes